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      A mobile phone application for the assessment and management of youth mental health problems in primary care: a randomised controlled trial


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          Over 75% of mental health problems begin in adolescence and primary care has been identified as the target setting for mental health intervention by the World Health Organisation. The mobiletype program is a mental health assessment and management mobile phone application which monitors mood, stress, coping strategies, activities, eating, sleeping, exercise patterns, and alcohol and cannabis use at least daily, and transmits this information to general practitioners (GPs) via a secure website in summary format for medical review.


          We conducted a randomised controlled trial in primary care to examine the mental health benefits of the mobiletype program. Patients aged 14 to 24 years were recruited from rural and metropolitan general practices. GPs identified and referred eligible participants (those with mild or more mental health concerns) who were randomly assigned to either the intervention group (where mood, stress, and daily activities were monitored) or the attention comparison group (where only daily activities were monitored). Both groups self-monitored for 2 to 4 weeks and reviewed the monitoring data with their GP. GPs, participants, and researchers were blind to group allocation at randomisation. Participants completed pre-, post-, and 6-week post-test measures of the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale and an Emotional Self Awareness (ESA) Scale.


          Of the 163 participants assessed for eligibility, 118 were randomised and 114 participants were included in analyses (intervention group n = 68, comparison group n = 46). Mixed model analyses revealed a significant group by time interaction on ESA with a medium size of effect suggesting that the mobiletype program significantly increases ESA compared to an attention comparison. There was no significant group by time interaction for depression, anxiety, or stress, but a medium to large significant main effect for time for each of these mental health measures. Post-hoc analyses suggested that participation in the RCT lead to enhanced GP mental health care at pre-test and improved mental health outcomes.


          Monitoring mental health symptoms appears to increase ESA and implementing a mental health program in primary care and providing frequent reminders, clinical resources, and support to GPs substantially improved mental health outcomes for the sample as a whole.

          Trial Registration

          ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00794222.

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          Most cited references36

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          Interpreting scores on the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10)

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            Identity construction on Facebook: Digital empowerment in anchored relationships

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              Mental health literacy. Public knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders.

              A. JORM (2000)
              Although the benefits of public knowledge of physical diseases are widely accepted, knowledge about mental disorders (mental health literacy) has been comparatively neglected. To introduce the concept of mental health literacy to a wider audience, to bring together diverse research relevant to the topic and to identify gaps in the area. A narrative review within a conceptual framework. Many members of the public cannot recognise specific disorders or different types of psychological distress. They differ from mental health experts in their beliefs about the causes of mental disorders and the most effective treatments. Attitudes which hinder recognition and appropriate help-seeking are common. Much of the mental health information most readily available to the public is misleading. However, there is some evidence that mental health literacy can be improved. If the public's mental health literacy is not improved, this may hinder public acceptance of evidence-based mental health care. Also, many people with common mental disorders may be denied effective self-help and may not receive appropriate support from others in the community.

                Author and article information

                BMC Fam Pract
                BMC Family Practice
                BioMed Central
                29 November 2011
                : 12
                : 131
                [1 ]Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, University of Melbourne
                [2 ]Royal Children's Hospital, University of Melbourne
                [3 ]Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne
                [4 ]School of Behavioural Science, University of Melbourne, Australia
                Copyright ©2011 Reid et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 1 August 2011
                : 29 November 2011
                Research Article



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