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      Community Attitudes to the Appropriation of Mobile Phones for Monitoring and Managing Depression, Anxiety, and Stress

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          The benefits of self-monitoring on symptom severity, coping, and quality of life have been amply demonstrated. However, paper and pencil self-monitoring can be cumbersome and subject to biases associated with retrospective recall, while computer-based monitoring can be inconvenient in that it relies on users being at their computer at scheduled monitoring times. As a result, nonadherence in self-monitoring is common. Mobile phones offer an alternative. Their take-up has reached saturation point in most developed countries and is increasing in developing countries; they are carried on the person, they are usually turned on, and functionality is continually improving. Currently, however, public conceptions of mobile phones focus on their use as tools for communication and social identity. Community attitudes toward using mobile phones for mental health monitoring and self-management are not known.


          The objective was to explore community attitudes toward the appropriation of mobile phones for mental health monitoring and management.


          We held community consultations in Australia consisting of an online survey (n = 525), focus group discussions (n = 47), and interviews (n = 20).


          Respondents used their mobile phones daily and predominantly for communication purposes. Of those who completed the online survey, the majority (399/525 or 76%) reported that they would be interested in using their mobile phone for mental health monitoring and self-management if the service were free. Of the 455 participants who owned a mobile phone or PDA, there were no significant differences between those who expressed interest in the use of mobile phones for this purpose and those who did not by gender (χ2 1, = 0.98, P = .32, phi = .05), age group (χ2 4, = 1.95, P = .75, phi = .06), employment status (χ2 2, = 2.74, P = .25, phi = .08) or marital status (χ2 4, = 4.62, P = .33, phi = .10). However, the presence of current symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress affected interest in such a program in that those with symptoms were more interested (χ 2 1, = 16.67, P < .001, phi = .19). Reasons given for interest in using a mobile phone program were that it would be convenient, counteract isolation, and help identify triggers to mood states. Reasons given for lack of interest included not liking to use a mobile phone or technology, concerns that it would be too intrusive or that privacy would be lacking, and not seeing the need. Design features considered to be key by participants were enhanced privacy and security functions including user name and password, ease of use, the provision of reminders, and the availability of clear feedback.


          Community attitudes toward the appropriation of mobile phones for the monitoring and self-management of depression, anxiety, and stress appear to be positive as long as privacy and security provisions are assured, the program is intuitive and easy to use, and the feedback is clear.

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          Most cited references 16

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              Ecological Momentary Assessment Research in Behavioral medicine

               Joshua Smyth (2003)

                Author and article information

                J Med Internet Res
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                Gunther Eysenbach (Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Toronto, Canada )
                Oct-Dec 2010
                19 December 2010
                : 12
                : 5
                2Black Dog Institute SydneyAustralia
                1School of Psychiatry University of New South Wales SydneyAustralia
                ©Judith Proudfoot, Gordon Parker, Dusan Hadzi Pavlovic, Vijaya Manicavasagar, Einat Adler, Alexis Whitton. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 19.12.2010  

                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.

                Original Paper


                mobile phones, monitoring, self-help, depression, anxiety, stress, internet intervention


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