As smartphone usage is more and more ubiquitous, the app market is flourishing in all fields, including health. Indeed, the availability and use of smartphone apps (SAs) in health has exponentially grown in recent years. It has been estimated that in 2018 there were over 97,000 health apps available and that, 15% and 8% of US phone users aged 18-29 and 30-49 years respectively had health apps installed on their mobile devices. Health apps might potentially support people health paths in multiple ways: channeling health education, enabling personal health data tracking, self-monitoring and goals setting, facilitating access to health records or compliance to treatment, fostering effective communication with healthcare providers and health services, as well as supporting clinical decision-making.
Despite such large potential, still scant evidence is available on the impact of SAs on clinical outcomes in different fields of medicine, including mental health. With an estimated prevalence of around 450 million people currently suffering from mental disorders and 1 in 4 people in the world affected at some point in own life, mental disorders are a leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide whose prevention and care might be enhanced by mHealth technology.
The general aim of the presentation is to provide an overview on the use and impact of SAs in the field of mental health. Specific objectives are: i) to present a conceptual framework on how SAs might support mental disorders prevention, diagnosis and treatment, ii) to report on SAs use in mental health in different settings, iii) to collect and pool available evidence from observational and experimental studies on the impact of SAs use on different mental health outcomes, iv) to explore the quality, effectiveness and attributes of top-rated smartphone mental health apps and lastly, v) to suggest gaps in knowledge to be filled by future research.