How Technologies Can Support Self-Injury Self-Management: Perspectives of Young Adults With Lived Experience of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury

Kaylee Payne Kruzan*, David C. Mohr, Madhu Reddy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: There is growing interest in the design of digital interventions to improve conditions for young people who engage in high-risk behaviors, like nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI). However, few studies have focused on how young people self-manage NSSI, or their existing, and historic, use of technologies to support their goals related to NSSI behavior change. Such an understanding has the potential to inform the design of digital interventions that meet this population's unique needs. Objectives: This study aims to (a) understand the self-management practices of young adults who engage in NSSI, (b) explore how they currently use technologies for self-injury self-management, and (c) identify the ways they can envision an app-based technology supporting their self-management. Methods and Materials: Twenty young adults (aged 18–24) with lived experience of NSSI, and who were not currently enrolled in therapy, were recruited from online venues. Participants completed baseline measures to assess mental health and NSSI characteristics, followed by a virtual 1-h semi-structured interview where they were invited to share their experience of self-management, their goals, and their thoughts on supportive technology. Interview scripts were transcribed and analyzed via thematic analysis. Results: Themes and sub-themes are organized under two broad domain areas: (1) How young adults self-manage NSSI thoughts and behaviors and (2) Opportunities and challenges for digital interventions to assist young adults in their recovery process. We found that young adults had varied experiences with, and goals related to, NSSI. Participants reported a lack of effective strategies to reduce NSSI urges and a desire for an app-based technology to track patterns and deliver personalized suggestions for self-management. Participants reported existing use of technologies as part of self-management, as well as early information and support seeking for NSSI online. Conclusions: This study contributes a greater understanding of young people's experiences with self-injury, their self-management practices, and their desire to engage with technology. Our findings highlight the need for design flexibility in developing digital interventions that support individual goals, unique presentations of NSSI, and needs at different phases of recovery. Implications for the design of highly personalized and relevant digital interventions to address NSSI are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number913599
JournalFrontiers in Digital Health
StatePublished - Jun 29 2022


  • digital intervention
  • digital mental health
  • mHealth
  • mobile app
  • self-harm
  • self-injury
  • self-management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications


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