J Med Internet Res
BACKGROUND: Understanding patterns of real-world usage of mental health apps is key to maximizing their potential to increase public self-management of care. Although developer-led studies have published results on the use of mental health apps in real-world settings, no study yet has systematically examined usage patterns of a large sample of mental health apps relying on independently collected data.
OBJECTIVE: Our aim is to present real-world objective data on user engagement with popular mental health apps.
METHODS: A systematic engine search was conducted using Google Play to identify Android apps with 10,000 installs or more targeting anxiety, depression, or emotional well-being. Coding of apps included primary incorporated techniques and mental health focus. Behavioral data on real-world usage were obtained from a panel that provides aggregated nonpersonal information on user engagement with mobile apps.
RESULTS: In total, 93 apps met the inclusion criteria (installs: median 100,000, IQR 90,000). The median percentage of daily active users (open rate) was 4.0% (IQR 4.7%) with a difference between trackers (median 6.3%, IQR 10.2%) and peer-support apps (median 17.0%) versus breathing exercise apps (median 1.6%, IQR 1.6%; all z≥3.42, all P
CONCLUSIONS: Although the number of app installs and daily active minutes of use may seem high, only a small portion of users actually used the apps for a long period of time. More studies using different datasets are needed to understand this phenomenon and the ways in which users self-manage their condition in real-world settings.
Faculty; Northwell Researcher
School of Medicine; Northwell Health