UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Effectiveness of a Mobile App Intervention for Anxiety and Depression Symptoms in University Students: Randomized Controlled Trial

McCloud, T; Jones, R; Lewis, G; Bell, V; Tsakanikos, E; (2020) Effectiveness of a Mobile App Intervention for Anxiety and Depression Symptoms in University Students: Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth , 8 (7) , Article e15418. 10.2196/15418. Green open access

[thumbnail of pdf (3).pdf]
Preview
Text
pdf (3).pdf - Published Version

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract

Background: Depression and anxiety symptoms are common among university students, but many do not receive treatment. This is often because of lack of availability, reluctance to seek help, and not meeting the diagnostic criteria required to access services. Internet-based interventions, including smartphone apps, can overcome these issues. However, a large number of apps are available, each with little evidence of their effectiveness. / Objective: This study aims to evaluate for the first time the effectiveness of a self-guided mobile app, Feel Stress Free, for the treatment of depression and anxiety symptoms in students. / Methods: A web-based randomized controlled trial compared a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)–based mobile app Feel Stress Free with a wait-list control. University students self-identified as experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression and were randomized to 6 weeks of intervention (n=84) or control (n=84), unblinded. The app is self-guided and incorporates behavioral relaxation activities, mood tracking and thought challenging, and minigames. Participants completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale online at baseline and every fortnight. / Results: At week 6, the primary end point, there was evidence that the Feel Stress Free app reduced depression symptoms (mean difference −1.56; 95% CI −2.67 to −0.44; P=.006) but only very weak evidence that it reduced anxiety symptoms (mean difference −1.36; 95% CI −2.93 to 0.21; P=.09). At week 4, there was evidence to support the effectiveness of the intervention for anxiety symptoms (mean difference −1.94; 95% CI −3.11 to −0.77; P=.001) and, though weaker, depression symptoms (mean difference −1.08; 95% CI −2.12 to −0.04; P=.04). At week 6, 83% (34/41) of participants indicated that they were using the app weekly or more frequently. / Conclusions: The Feel Stress Free app is a promising mobile intervention for treating symptoms of anxiety and depression in students and overcomes many of the barriers to traditional CBT. Further research is needed to establish its effectiveness at and beyond 6 weeks. / Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03032952; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03032952

Type: Article
Title: Effectiveness of a Mobile App Intervention for Anxiety and Depression Symptoms in University Students: Randomized Controlled Trial
Location: Canada
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.2196/15418
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.2196/15418
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://mhealth.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
Keywords: anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy, depression, eHealth, mobile apps, mobile phone, online intervention, randomized controlled trial
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106852
Downloads since deposit
56Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item