We have completed six Rapid Evidence Syntheses related to mHealth (Apps/Online platform) interventions, focussing on improving and managing mental health and wellbeing:
eQuoo is a gamified mHealth intervention (app) aimed at young adults (18-28 years), designed to teach psychological concepts through a combination of education, stories and gamification.
It is available for smartphones and included in the UK NHS app library where it is described as using “adventure games designed by psychologists to help you increase your emotional fitness and teach you new psychological skills” and giving “tips on how to communicate more effectively and maintain your mental wellbeing”.
We found there to be some limited relevant evidence from a trial conducted in young adult volunteers.
There is an existing randomised controlled trial (RCT) of eQuoo in healthy young adults but this has not been fully reported and we do not have comparative data for the outcomes.
There are a large number of other technological interventions which include gamification for mental health or wellbeing support but mixed evidence for the impact of gamification on outcomes including adherence.
The full RES on 'eQuoo' can be downloaded here - (form required)
2. S12 Solutions
S12 Solutions is designed to improve the process by which someone is assessed under section 12 of the Mental Health Act 1983 which provides for detention and treatment in hospital without consent.
S12 Solutions is a platform, delivered via an app and website, that connects AHMPs with available local doctors who are section 12 approved, in order to facilitate section 12 assessments, and then allows completion of forms and data capture within the platform. The aim of the innovation is to improve the timeliness and ease of conducting section 12 assessments, with concomitant benefits to systems, healthcare professionals and service users.
We found there to be relevant but extremely limited non-comparative evidence for some positive impacts of S12 Solutions on processes of section 12 assessments, reported by health professionals.
The overall impact of adopting S12 Solutions on both the pilot and neighbouring areas is very uncertain.
There is no direct evidence for the impact of S12 Solutions on service users.
There is no evidence for other technological interventions intended for the purpose of facilitating section 12 assessments.
The full RES on 'S12 Solutions' can be downloaded here
MyCognition is a digital platform that comprises an assessment (MyCQ) and a cognitive training programme/game (AquaSnap). It is aimed at a wide range of potential users, including both adults and children and including those with specific needs or conditions.
Given the wide range of applications for which MyCognition is marketed we have focused this synthesis on the evidence for its role in health. However it is also used for both educational and corporate interventions.
We found that randomised trials exist for the use of the MyCognition training programme “AquaSnap” in people with diagnoses of serious mental or physical health conditions which have cognitive components. However there is very little comparative data available from these studies because none have been fully published. Our assessment is very likely to change with the publication of the RCTs assessing AquaSnap in clinical populations.
Cognitive training generally, and in computerised form, has been widely evaluated mainly for people with or at risk of cognitive impairment with mixed results.
The full RES on 'myCognition' can be downloaded here - (form required)
yHappyMind is a preventative intervention aimed at children aged 3-11. It is intended to build resilience and therefore reduce mental health (CYPMHS) referrals in this age group.
It is a school-based intervention which also has an app which is available to parents. It is designed to provide tools and training to build resilience and self-esteem, with the aim of preventing the development of mental health issues.
There is no published evidence relating to MyHappyMind
We found low or very low certainty evidence from quasi-randomised studies for the effect of similar interventions on measures of mental health and moderate certainty evidence of no effect from an RCT of a less similar intervention in primary schools.
There is low certainty evidence from a large systematic review for the effects of school-based cognitive behavioural interventions in primary and secondary schools on anxiety.
None of the published evidence evaluated impact on CYPMHS referrals and almost all published evidence relates to older primary school children.
The full RES on 'MyHappyMind' can be downloaded here - (form required)
Wysa is a mental health support app which uses a chatbot (an AI penguin) written by therapists that allows users to talk anonymously about mood and issues in their lives.
It has a recommendation for use in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional functionality includes options supporting consultation with health professionals and links with other health related apps.
We found there to be no comparative evidence for the impact of Wysa on mood and psychological outcomes.
There is some evidence that people with self-reported symptoms of depression who used Wysa a lot showed greater symptom improvement than people who didn’t use Wysa very much; this difference cannot reliably be attributed to differences in their use of Wysa.
There is some low certainty randomised evidence that a different chatbot (Woebot) may improve symptoms of depression in young adults who self-report symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The full RES on 'Wysa' can be downloaded here - (form required)
Xploro is a digital platform designed to increase children’s knowledge about medical procedures and to reduce their anxiety when attending hospital for routine procedures.
It uses gamification, a chatbot and a customisable augmented reality avatar. It provides information about hospital environments such as wards and operating theatres, key healthcare personnel and hospital equipment. Several games with health themes are included on the app. It is designed to be used before and during hospital attendance.
There is directly relevant comparative but non-randomised evidence that access to Xploro may reduce procedural anxiety and increase perceived knowledge and sense of involvement in children attending hospital for planned invasive or non-invasive procedures. Xploro was considered positively (qualitative data). A systematic review found consistent but methodologically limited evidence for play interventions in children having planned invasive procedures.
The full RES on 'Xploro' can be downloaded here - (form required)