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Pocket psychiatry for millennials - Friend or foe? : a systematic review of existing self-compassion apps

Zuccarello, C.C. (2017) Pocket psychiatry for millennials - Friend or foe? : a systematic review of existing self-compassion apps.

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Abstract:BACKGROUND: Millennials, the generation of individuals born between 1985 and the early 2000, experience high degrees of pressure and self-criticism, often resulting in an increase of mental health problems. The practice of self-compassion, a concept consisting of the three elements self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness, has proven to be effective as a protective factor against psychopathology and as a buffer against negative life events. Self- compassion can be viewed as compassion directed towards your inner self. The practice of self- compassion can also be taught via mobile phones by Mental Health apps. However, most health apps that are currently available, lack scientific evidence and scientific evaluations regarding their development and their quality. STUDY PURPOSE AND METHODS: The primary purpose of this systematic review is to evaluate the quality of current self-compassion apps. Apps were searched in the iTunes Store. After the selection process, eight apps were included for further evaluation. First, the apps were analyzed by checking the presence of an underlying theoretical framework and of evidence based exercises. This was achieved by searching for references to self-compassion theories and by comparing the apps’ exercises with those incorporated in self-compassion interventions. Afterwards, the persuasive technology systems design model (PSD) was used to check the stimulate the use of an intervention. Finally, the mobile rating scale uMARS was applied to provide a systematic and comparable rating of the overall quality. RESULTS: None of the apps referred to a theoretical self-compassion framework. All apps used exercises found in evidence based self-compassion interventions. Concerning the use of persuasive technology elements, all apps made use of Primary Task Support features. Credibility Support was used in five apps. Dialogue Support and Social Support were applied in two apps. The uMARS rating scale revealed, that the functionality and appearance of the apps reached higher ratings compared to those concerning the degree of user engagement and the presented information within the apps. CONCLUSION: This study concludes, that the evaluated self-compassion apps are evidence based due to the incorporated exercises, but they lack references to used theories. This missing information makes them appear less trustworthy. Furthermore, persuasive system design elements are poorly implemented. Future app development should consider the found limitations to achieve higher persuasiveness. Additionally, the uMARS rating scale appears to be a timesaving evaluation tool, which reflects all the results of this study in just one rating scale. It is therefore recommended for future Mental Health apps evaluation studies. Based on the comparison of the apps, the MindSpace app could be identified as the highest scoring app, therefore representing a recommendation to be used by millennials.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/72263
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