Specific features of current and emerging mobile health apps: user views among people with and without mental health problems

Louise K. Thornton, Frances J. Kay-Lambkin


Background: Despite widespread development of mobile health apps, there is a paucity of research investigating user views of apps and their features, particularly among people with mental health problems. This study aimed to gain an understanding of the acceptability of specific features of current and emerging mobile health apps among people with and without mental health problems.
Methods: Adults living in Australia were recruited to complete a self-report questionnaire regarding demographic characteristics, mental health, technology use, and attitudes regarding specific features of mobile health apps.
Results: A total of 284 participants were recruited, including 53% with a history of mental illness. Few concerns were reported with mobile app features (mean =1.8 features; SD =2.19) and statistical analyses found that age, gender, income, rurality, mental health status and technology use did not affect the expression of these concerns. Key issues identified included privacy and security of personal information, apps acting automatically, sharing personal information and the invasive nature of some features.
Conclusions: These results suggest that mental illness may not be a barrier to widespread use of mobile technologies for health purposes. It is hoped that this research will assist developers and clinicians to develop and integrate mobile health apps into everyday care more effectively.