Exploring the use of Mobile Applications in Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Author: Christina Burnett
Chair: Stephen Zilora - sjzics
Committee: Qi Yu - qyuvks
Submitted On: Jan 1, 2022

Mental health disorders affect about 1 in 5 adults in the United States, and less than half (45%) of those people have received treatment in the last year (SAMHSA, 2020). As technology makes its way into many homes, there has been a rise in mobile health applications. This project aims to explore the use of these applications in those who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Specifically, we hope to better understand the features which participants feel are the most helpful for coping with anxiety, and the elements which motivate participants to continue using the application (more than one time). Generalized Anxiety is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health (2016) as excessive worry that is difficult to control, and often interferes with daily tasks. Within this project an online survey was disseminated to collect data and feelings on the use of current applications which may or may not be aimed towards those struggling with anxiety. Following this, a prototype of a new application was created using the feedback gained from the original survey. Then the prototype was run through a usability test and more feedback was gathered about how this application could help people with anxiety in coping with their worry. The top feature which was mentioned in both the survey and the interviews was guided meditation. There are many applications currently available which include or are centered around guided meditation. The two elements of motivation that were mentioned most frequently is that that app actually helps to lower their anxiety, and that the app is also enjoyable. This project allows us to gain insight on the uses of mobile health applications and understand what features and design patterns are considered most useful.