‘Help for trauma from the app stores?’ A systematic review and standardised rating of apps for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Bosse Sander, Lasse and Schorndanner, Johanna and Terhorst, Yannik and Spanhel, Kerstin and Pryss, Rüdiger and Baumeister, Harald and Messner, Eva-Maria (2020) ‘Help for trauma from the app stores?’ A systematic review and standardised rating of apps for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 11 (1).

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Background: Mobile health applications (apps) are considered to complement traditional psychological treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, the use for clinical practice and quality of available apps is unknown.

Objective: To assess the general characteristics, therapeutic background, content, and quality of apps for PTSD and to examine their concordance with established PTSD treatment and self-help methods.

Method: A web crawler systematically searched for apps targeting PTSD in the British Google Play and Apple iTunes stores. Two independent researchers rated the apps using the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS). The content of high-quality apps was checked for concordance with psychological treatment and self-help methods extracted from current literature on PTSD treatment.

Results: Out of 555 identified apps, 69 met the inclusion criteria. The overall app quality based on the MARS was medium (M = 3.36, SD = 0.65). Most apps (50.7%) were based on cognitive behavioural therapy and offered a wide range of content, including established psychological PTSD treatment methods such as processing of trauma-related emotions and beliefs, relaxation exercises, and psychoeducation. Notably, data protection and privacy standards were poor in most apps and only one app (1.4%) was scientifically evaluated in a randomized controlled trial.

Conclusions: High-quality apps based on established psychological treatment techniques for PTSD are available in commercial app stores. However, users are confronted with great difficulties in identifying useful high-quality apps and most apps lack an evidence-base. Commercial distribution channels do not exploit the potential of apps to complement the psychological treatment of PTSD.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: DBIS Research > Publications
Divisions: Faculty of Engineering, Electronics and Computer Science > Institute of Databases and Informations Systems > DBIS Research and Teaching > DBIS Research > Publications
Depositing User: Ruediger Pryss
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2020 12:36
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2020 12:36
URI: http://dbis.eprints.uni-ulm.de/id/eprint/1919

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