PTSD Coach around the world

Eric Kuhn, Christianne van der Meer, Jason E. Owen, Julia E. Hoffman, Richard Cash, Pasqualina Carrese, Miranda Olff, Anne Bakker, Julia Schellong, Patrick Lorenz, Matthias Schopp, Heinrich Rau, Kerstin Weidner, Filip K. Arnberg, Martin Cernvall, Thomas Iversen


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a global public health problem. Unfortunately, many individuals with PTSD do not receive professional care due to a lack of available providers, stigma about mental illness, and other concerns. Technology-based interventions, including mobile phone applications (apps) may be a viable means of surmounting such barriers and reaching and helping those in need. Given this potential, in 2011 the U.S Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD released PTSD Coach, a mobile app intended to provide psycho-education and self-management tools for trauma survivors with PTSD symptoms. Emerging research on PTSD Coach demonstrates high user satisfaction, feasibility, and improvement in PTSD symptoms and other psychosocial outcomes. A model of openly sharing the app’s source code and content has resulted in versions being created by individuals in six other countries: Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark. These versions are described, highlighting their significant adaptations, enhancements, and expansions to the original PTSD Coach app as well as emerging research on them. It is clear that the sharing of app source code and content has benefited this emerging PTSD Coach community, as well as the populations they are targeting. Despite this success, challenges remain especially reaching trauma survivors in areas where few or no other mental health resources exist.