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Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2015 May 19;6:27882. doi: 10.3402/ejpt.v6.27882. eCollection 2015.

Mobile mental health: a challenging research agenda.

Olff M1,2.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam The Netherlands.
2
Arq Psychotrauma Expert Group, Diemen, The Netherlands; m.olff@amc.uva.nl.

Abstract

The field of mobile health ("m-Health") is evolving rapidly and there is an explosive growth of psychological tools on the market. Exciting high-tech developments may identify symptoms, help individuals manage their own mental health, encourage help seeking, and provide both preventive and therapeutic interventions. This development has the potential to be an efficient cost-effective approach reducing waiting lists and serving a considerable portion of people globally ("g-Health"). However, few of the mobile applications (apps) have been rigorously evaluated. There is little information on how valid screening and assessment tools are, which of the mobile intervention apps are effective, or how well mobile apps compare to face-to-face treatments. But how feasible is rigorous scientific evaluation with the rising demands from policy makers, business partners, and users for their quick release? In this paper, developments in m-Health tools-targeting screening, assessment, prevention, and treatment-are reviewed with examples from the field of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder. The academic challenges in developing and evaluating m-Health tools are being addressed. Evidence-based guidance is needed on appropriate research designs that may overcome some of the public and ethical challenges (e.g., equity, availability) and the market-driven wish to have mobile apps in the "App Store" yesterday rather than tomorrow.

KEYWORDS:

PTSD; depression; e-Health; global health; internet intervention; m-Health; mobile apps/applications; mobile health; smartphone; trauma

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