Send to

Choose Destination
J Med Internet Res. 2019 Aug 28;21(8):e13609. doi: 10.2196/13609.

Comparison of the Effects of Coaching and Receipt of App Recommendations on Depression, Anxiety, and Engagement in the IntelliCare Platform: Factorial Randomized Controlled Trial.

Author information

Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, United States.
Department of Psychological Science, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States.
Department of Gastroenterology, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, United States.
Audacious Software, Chicago, IL, United States.
Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, United States.



IntelliCare is a modular platform that includes 12 simple apps targeting specific psychological strategies for common mental health problems.


This study aimed to examine the effect of 2 methods of maintaining engagement with the IntelliCare platform, coaching, and receipt of weekly recommendations to try different apps on depression, anxiety, and app use.


A total of 301 participants with depression or anxiety were randomized to 1 of 4 treatments lasting 8 weeks and were followed for 6 months posttreatment. The trial used a 2X2 factorial design (coached vs self-guided treatment and weekly app recommendations vs no recommendations) to compare engagement metrics.


The median time to last use of any app during treatment was 56 days (interquartile range 54-57), with 253 participants (84.0%, 253/301) continuing to use the apps over a median of 92 days posttreatment. Receipt of weekly recommendations resulted in a significantly higher number of app use sessions during treatment (overall median=216; P=.04) but only marginal effects for time to last use (P=.06) and number of app downloads (P=.08). Coaching resulted in significantly more app downloads (P<.001), but there were no significant effects for time to last download or number of app sessions (P=.36) or time to last download (P=.08). Participants showed significant reductions in the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) across all treatment arms (P s<.001). Coached treatment led to larger GAD-7 reductions than those observed for self-guided treatment (P=.03), but the effects for the PHQ-9 did not reach significance (P=.06). Significant interaction was observed between receiving recommendations and time for the PHQ-9 (P=.04), but there were no significant effects for GAD-7 (P=.58).


IntelliCare produced strong engagement with apps across all treatment arms. Coaching was associated with stronger anxiety outcomes, and receipt of recommendations enhanced depression outcomes.



anxiety; clinical trial; depression; mHealth

Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for JMIR Publications
Loading ...
Support Center