Intellicare: An eclectic, skills-based app suite for the treatment of depression and anxiety

David C. Mohr*, Kathryn Noth Tomasino, Emily G. Lattie, Hannah L. Palac, Mary J. Kwasny, Kenneth Weingardt, Chris J. Karr, Susan M. Kaiser, Rebecca C. Rossom, Leland R. Bardsley, Lauren Caccamo, Colleen Stiles-Shields, Stephen M. Schueller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Digital mental health tools have tended to use psychoeducational strategies based on treatment orientations developed and validated outside of digital health. These features do not map well to the brief but frequent ways that people use mobile phones and mobile phone apps today. To address these challenges, we developed a suite of apps for depression and anxiety called IntelliCare, each developed with a focused goal and interactional style. IntelliCare apps prioritize interactive skills training over education and are designed for frequent but short interactions. Objective: The overall objective of this study was to pilot a coach-assisted version of IntelliCare and evaluate its use and efficacy at reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Methods: Participants, recruited through a health care system, Web-based and community advertising, and clinical research registries, were included in this single-arm trial if they had elevated symptoms of depression or anxiety. Participants had access to the 14 IntelliCare apps from Google Play and received 8 weeks of coaching on the use of IntelliCare. Coaching included an initial phone call plus 2 or more texts per week over the 8 weeks, with some participants receiving an additional brief phone call. Primary outcomes included the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) for depression and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) for anxiety. Participants were compensated up to US $90 for completing all assessments; compensation was not for app use or treatment engagement. Results: Of the 99 participants who initiated treatment, 90.1% (90/99) completed 8 weeks. Participants showed substantial reductions in the PHQ-9 and GAD-7 (P<.001). Participants used the apps an average of 195.4 (SD 141) times over the 8 weeks. The average length of use was 1.1 (SD 2.1) minutes, and 95% of participants downloaded 5 or more of the IntelliCare apps. Conclusions: This study supports the IntelliCare framework of providing a suite of skills-focused apps that can be used frequently and briefly to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. The IntelliCare system is elemental, allowing individual apps to be used or not used based on their effectiveness and utility, and it is eclectic, viewing treatment strategies as elements that can be applied as needed rather than adhering to a singular, overarching, theoretical model. Trial Registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02176226; http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02176226 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation/6mQZuBGk1).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere10
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • EHealth
  • MHealth
  • Mobile health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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