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      Mobile Apps for Bipolar Disorder: A Systematic Review of Features and Content Quality

      , BSc(Hons) BA , 1 , 2 , , DPhil 1 , , PhD 1 , , PhD 1

      (Reviewer), (Reviewer)

      Journal of Medical Internet Research

      JMIR Publications Inc.

      mobile applications, bipolar disorder, review, telemedicine

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          Abstract

          Background

          With continued increases in smartphone ownership, researchers and clinicians are investigating the use of this technology to enhance the management of chronic illnesses such as bipolar disorder (BD). Smartphones can be used to deliver interventions and psychoeducation, supplement treatment, and enhance therapeutic reach in BD, as apps are cost-effective, accessible, anonymous, and convenient. While the evidence-based development of BD apps is in its infancy, there has been an explosion of publicly available apps. However, the opportunity for mHealth to assist in the self-management of BD is only feasible if apps are of appropriate quality.

          Objective

          Our aim was to identify the types of apps currently available for BD in the Google Play and iOS stores and to assess their features and the quality of their content.

          Methods

          A systematic review framework was applied to the search, screening, and assessment of apps. We searched the Australian Google Play and iOS stores for English-language apps developed for people with BD. The comprehensiveness and quality of information was assessed against core psychoeducation principles and current BD treatment guidelines. Management tools were evaluated with reference to the best-practice resources for the specific area. General app features, and privacy and security were also assessed.

          Results

          Of the 571 apps identified, 82 were included in the review. Of these, 32 apps provided information and the remaining 50 were management tools including screening and assessment (n=10), symptom monitoring (n=35), community support (n=4), and treatment (n=1). Not even a quarter of apps (18/82, 22%) addressed privacy and security by providing a privacy policy. Overall, apps providing information covered a third (4/11, 36%) of the core psychoeducation principles and even fewer (2/13, 15%) best-practice guidelines. Only a third (10/32, 31%) cited their information source. Neither comprehensiveness of psychoeducation information ( r=-.11, P=.80) nor adherence to best-practice guidelines ( r=-.02, P=.96) were significantly correlated with average user ratings. Symptom monitoring apps generally failed to monitor critical information such as medication (20/35, 57%) and sleep (18/35, 51%), and the majority of self-assessment apps did not use validated screening measures (6/10, 60%).

          Conclusions

          In general, the content of currently available apps for BD is not in line with practice guidelines or established self-management principles. Apps also fail to provide important information to help users assess their quality, with most lacking source citation and a privacy policy. Therefore, both consumers and clinicians should exercise caution with app selection. While mHealth offers great opportunities for the development of quality evidence-based mobile interventions, new frameworks for mobile mental health research are needed to ensure the timely availability of evidence-based apps to the public.

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          Most cited references 46

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          Smartphones for Smarter Delivery of Mental Health Programs: A Systematic Review

          Background The rapid growth in the use of mobile phone applications (apps) provides the opportunity to increase access to evidence-based mental health care. Objective Our goal was to systematically review the research evidence supporting the efficacy of mental health apps for mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets) for all ages. Methods A comprehensive literature search (2008-2013) in MEDLINE, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PsycINFO, PsycTESTS, Compendex, and Inspec was conducted. We included trials that examined the effects of mental health apps (for depression, anxiety, substance use, sleep disturbances, suicidal behavior, self-harm, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, stress, and gambling) delivered on mobile devices with a pre- to posttest design or compared with a control group. The control group could consist of wait list, treatment-as-usual, or another recognized treatment. Results In total, 5464 abstracts were identified. Of those, 8 papers describing 5 apps targeting depression, anxiety, and substance abuse met the inclusion criteria. Four apps provided support from a mental health professional. Results showed significant reductions in depression, stress, and substance use. Within-group and between-group intention-to-treat effect sizes ranged from 0.29-2.28 and 0.01-0.48 at posttest and follow-up, respectively. Conclusions Mental health apps have the potential to be effective and may significantly improve treatment accessibility. However, the majority of apps that are currently available lack scientific evidence about their efficacy. The public needs to be educated on how to identify the few evidence-based mental health apps available in the public domain to date. Further rigorous research is required to develop and test evidence-based programs. Given the small number of studies and participants included in this review, the high risk of bias, and unknown efficacy of long-term follow-up, current findings should be interpreted with caution, pending replication. Two of the 5 evidence-based mental health apps are currently commercially available in app stores.
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            Development and validation of a screening instrument for bipolar spectrum disorder: the Mood Disorder Questionnaire.

            Bipolar spectrum disorders, which include bipolar I, bipolar II, and bipolar disorder not otherwise specified, frequently go unrecognized, undiagnosed, and untreated. This report describes the validation of a new brief self-report screening instrument for bipolar spectrum disorders called the Mood Disorder Questionnaire. A total of 198 patients attending five outpatient clinics that primarily treat patients with mood disorders completed the Mood Disorder Questionnaire. A research professional, blind to the Mood Disorder Questionnaire results, conducted a telephone research diagnostic interview by means of the bipolar module of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. A Mood Disorder Questionnaire screening score of 7 or more items yielded good sensitivity (0.73) and very good specificity (0.90). The Mood Disorder Questionnaire is a useful screening instrument for bipolar spectrum disorder in a psychiatric outpatient population.
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              Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) and International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) collaborative update of CANMAT guidelines for the management of patients with bipolar disorder: update 2013.

              The Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments published guidelines for the management of bipolar disorder in 2005, with updates in 2007 and 2009. This third update, in conjunction with the International Society for Bipolar Disorders, reviews new evidence and is designed to be used in conjunction with the previous publications.The recommendations for the management of acute mania remain largely unchanged. Lithium, valproate, and several atypical antipsychotic agents continue to be first-line treatments for acute mania. Monotherapy with asenapine, paliperidone extended release (ER), and divalproex ER, as well as adjunctive asenapine, have been added as first-line options.For the management of bipolar depression, lithium, lamotrigine, and quetiapine monotherapy, as well as olanzapine plus selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), and lithium or divalproex plus SSRI/bupropion remain first-line options. Lurasidone monotherapy and the combination of lurasidone or lamotrigine plus lithium or divalproex have been added as a second-line options. Ziprasidone alone or as adjunctive therapy, and adjunctive levetiracetam have been added as not-recommended options for the treatment of bipolar depression. Lithium, lamotrigine, valproate, olanzapine, quetiapine, aripiprazole, risperidone long-acting injection, and adjunctive ziprasidone continue to be first-line options for maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. Asenapine alone or as adjunctive therapy have been added as third-line options. © 2012 John Wiley and Sons A/S.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Med Internet Res
                J. Med. Internet Res
                JMIR
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                JMIR Publications Inc. (Toronto, Canada )
                1439-4456
                1438-8871
                August 2015
                17 August 2015
                : 17
                : 8
                Affiliations
                1Black Dog Institute University of New South Wales SydneyAustralia
                2School of Psychiatry Faculty of Medicine University of New South Wales SydneyAustralia
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Jennifer Nicholas j.nicholas@ 123456blackdog.org.au
                Article
                v17i8e198
                10.2196/jmir.4581
                4642376
                26283290
                ©Jennifer Nicholas, Mark Erik Larsen, Judith Proudfoot, Helen Christensen. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 17.08.2015.

                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, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                Categories
                Review
                Review

                Medicine

                telemedicine, review, bipolar disorder, mobile applications

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