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Application of Smartphone Technology in the Management and Treatment of Mental Illnesses

Susick, Michael (2011) Application of Smartphone Technology in the Management and Treatment of Mental Illnesses. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Abstract: Background: Mental illness continues to be a significant Public Health problem and the innovative use of technology to improve the treatment of mental illnesses holds great public health relevance. Over the past decade telecommunications technology has been used to increase access to and improve the quality of mental health care. There is current evidence that the use of landline and cellular telephones, computer-assisted therapy, and videoconferencing can be effective in improving treatment outcomes. Smartphones, as the newest development in communications technology, offer a new opportunity to improve mental health care through their versatile nature to perform a variety of functions. Methods: A critical literature review was performed to examine the potential of smartphones to increase access to mental health care, reduce barriers to care, and improve patient treatment outcomes. The review was performed by searching several electronic databases using a combination of keywords related to smartphones and mental health interventions using mobile devices. Literature concerning the use of cell phones, handheld computers, and smartphones to improve access to mental health care and improve treatment outcomes was identified.Results: The majority of studies identified were feasibility and pilot studies on patients with a variety of diagnosed mental illnesses using cell phones and PDAs. Authors report that most study participants, with some exceptions, were capable of using a mobile device and found them acceptable to use. Few studies extensively measured treatment outcomes and instead reported preliminary results and presented case illustrations. Studies which used smartphones successfully used them collect data on patients and deliver multimedia interventions. Discussion: The current literature offers encouraging evidence for the use of smartphones to improve mental health care but also reflects the lack of research conducted using smartphones. Studies which examine care provider use of smartphones to improve care is encouraging but has limited generalizability to mental health care. The feasibility of patient use of smartphones is also encouraging, but questions remain about feasibility in some sub-populations, particularly schizophrenia patients. Pilot testing of mobile devices and applications can greatly increase the feasibility of using smartphones in mental health care. Patients who are unfamiliar with smartphones will likely need initial training and support in their use. Conclusion: The literature identified several ways in which smartphones can increase access to care, reduce barriers, and improve treatment outcomes. Study results were encouraging but scientifically weak. Future studies are needed replicating results of studies using cell phones and PDAs on smartphones. Larger and higher quality studies are needed to examine the feasibility, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of smartphones to deliver multiple component interventions that improve access to mental health care and improve treatment outcomes.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairRicci, Edmundemricci@pitt.eduEMRICCI
Committee MemberNolan,
Committee MemberBarron, Geraldgbarron@pitt,edu
Date: 29 June 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 12 April 2011
Approval Date: 29 June 2011
Submission Date: 5 April 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: ; Android; Apps; Blackberry; cell phone; handheld computer; iPhone; mental health; Mental Illness; mHealth; mobile device; PDA; public health; smartphone; Telehealth; Telemental Health
Other ID:, etd-04052011-003504
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:34
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:38


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