Mobile Application Review

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By: Constance Dalenberg, PhD and Marie Ardill, MA

Constance Dalenberg
Constance Dalenberg, PhD

Divisions 56 and 46 worked collaboratively to create a Mental Health Mobile Phone Application Review database, which currently includes information on more than 40 apps for iOS and Android systems. The development of the database was funded by a CODAPAR grant submitted by 2013 Division 56 President Constance Dalenberg, with the support of Lilli Friedland from Division 46 and Ray DiGuiseppe from Division 29. The focus of this database is to provide APA members with evaluated tools to augment service delivery. The database is also designed to enhance the potential effectiveness of self-help strategies, thus serving the community and highlighting the role of the APA in championing ethical and empirically based interventions, which are core values of the organization. The project also serves the strategic goal of expanding psychology’s role in advancing health through education and creation of what is likely to be a highly accessed database for researchers and professionals.

Marie Ardill, MA

The mobile applications to be evaluated by the database were narrowed down from an existing list from the Trauma Research Institute of frequently recommended apps, as well as lists generated through searches of online app databases. In this first round of finding relevant apps, the team focused on apps that dealt with stress, trauma, or anxiety. The creation of the database and the rating of the applications took the work of approximately thirty psychologists, mostly from the trauma field. The raters were selected either from targeted requests sent out by the two divisions or by utilizing email addresses associated with pertinent research findings in the area related to the app. Raters were asked to evaluate between one and three phone applications. Two project managers (Jan Estrellado and Marie Ardill) helped coordinate these ratings.

Each rater was contacted by email to participate in the project and was randomly assigned a phone application to review within their area of expertise. The phone applications were “gifted” to each rater, thus making them free to download onto their personal devices. The raters then sent in reviews on the following five different dimensions: 1) easy to download; 2) easy to use; 3) is of benefit to motivated user; 4) is consistent with scientific literature; and, 5) reports efficacy evidence. Each dimension was rated from 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest and 1 the lowest rating. Additionally, reviewers were given the option to write a summary for each phone application to be posted with the review.

The reviews for each phone application were then compiled. Upon completion, Division 56 created a PDF and webpage to display the data from the phone application reviews. The goal was to make the phone applications accessible to the public with easy access in order to display the evidence-based research behind phone applications and the use in the clinical field. This data base can be expanded over time—both to other areas of psychopathology intervention and to support apps for researchers—and it could be a useful tool for the busy professional. Full Database

Constance Dalenberg, PhD is the founder and director of theTrauma Research Institute and a professor of clinical psychology at Alliant International University in San Diego, CA. Dr. Dalenberg is also the current president for the APA Division 56 (Trauma Psychology) and recognized as an international expert on trauma disclosure and trauma therapy.

Marie Ardill, MA is a Doctoral Candidate at Alliant International University-CSPP in San Diego studying Clinical Psychology. She is conducts research at the Trauma Research Institute and is finishing her dissertation on nightmares in the traumatized child population. She received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Azusa Pacific University in 2013 and continues to contribute to the field as a researcher and a clinician.