Supportive Mental Health Self-Monitoring among Smartphone Users with Psychological Distress: Protocol for a Fully Mobile Randomized Controlled Trial

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Mobile health (mHealth) could be widely used in the population to improve access to psychological treatment. In this paper, we describe the development of a mHealth intervention on the basis of supportive self-monitoring and describe the protocol for a randomized controlled trial to evaluate its effectiveness among smartphone users with psychological distress. Based on power analysis, a representative quota sample of N = 186 smartphone users will be recruited, with an over-sampling of persons with moderate to high distress. Over a 4-week period, the intervention will be compared to a self-monitoring without intervention group and a passive control group. Telephone interviews will be conducted at baseline, post-intervention (4 weeks), and 12-week follow-up to assess study outcomes. The primary outcome will be improvement of mental health. Secondary outcomes will include well-being, intentions toward help-seeking and help-seeking behavior, user activation, attitudes toward mental-health services, perceived stigmatization, smartphone app quality, user satisfaction, engagement, and adherence with the intervention. Additionally, data from the user's daily life as collected during self-monitoring will be used to investigate risk and protective factors of mental health in real-world settings. Therefore, this study will allow us to demonstrate the effectiveness of a smartphone application as a widely accessible and low-cost intervention to improve mental health on a population level. It also allows to identify new assessment approaches in the field of psychiatric epidemiology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number249
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 21.09.2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
No funding was obtained for the preparation of the manuscript. A DFG grant proposal is in preparation to obtain funding for the study.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 Beiwinkel, Hey, Bock and Rössler.

    Research areas

  • mental health, smartphone, mobile intervention, psychological distress, self-monitoring, ambulatory assessment, randomized controlled trial
  • Psychology