The CREST.BD team is hard at work on our CIHR-funded Bipolar Bridges project to build an app that helps people with bipolar disorder optimise their quality of life. To help us design the app, we are asking about your experiences of digital tools in a new online survey.
We know from previous research that mood tracking apps don’t cover the full range of digital self-management tools that people with bipolar disorder might find helpful (Murnane et al., 2016; Nicholas, Boydell, & Christensen, 2017). One of the aims of the Bipolar Bridges project is to develop an app that empowers users to combine and learn from different forms of digital self-management and QoL (quality of life) data (for instance, sleep quality, mood management, activity levels, and social connectivity), all in one place. While the full version of the Bipolar Bridges app will be able to connect with a wide range of apps, we need to build a smaller version for initial (pilot) testing, and choose a starter set of safe, evidence-informed, and engaging health and wellbeing apps that are best suited for integration.
There are a few ways that we could come up with a curated list of apps: We could search through the app store and try to pick the best apps that way, but that might take years – there are over 300,000 health apps available in the Google Play and Apple stores (Aitken, Clancy, & Nass, 2017), and more than 10,000 apps relate specifically to mental health (Torous et al., 2018).
We could look at some government or research websites that provide evaluations of health apps for clinicians and people with lived experience, such as https://psyberguide.org/ or https://headtohealth.gov.au/. However, there also are no centralized information sources on bipolar-specific apps. We also know that apps can be rated very differently by research organisations versus people who use them on a day-to-day basis (Neary & Schueller, 2018).
We decided that the best starting point is therefore to ask people who live with bipolar disorder how they currently use apps to manage their health and wellbeing. We’ve created a survey that asks about the kinds of apps people might use to support their quality of life across the domains that we think are most relevant and important for people with bipolar disorder, as well as the kinds of information sources people use to select apps, their levels of confidence using digital tools, and any concerns about data privacy and security.
We decided that the best starting point is therefore to ask people who live with bipolar disorder how they currently use apps to manage their health and wellbeing.
We are also inviting healthcare providers to tell us about the kinds of apps they might ‘prescribe’ or discuss with patients, because recommendations from trusted clinicians are an information source people might use to select health apps.
Once we have a list of commonly used apps the CREST.BD team will use some standardized frameworks for mental health app evaluation to review their evidence base, safety, and usability, in order to curate a list of apps that will be integrated with Bipolar Bridges. We will also be able to use these findings to add to the ‘Resources’ pages in the Bipolar Wellness Centre to help healthcare providers and people with bipolar disorder select the health and QoL-related apps relevant for their needs.
These surveys are a starting point for our information gathering for Bipolar Bridges – there will be more in-depth focus groups and Community-Based Participatory Research events to follow. We appreciate your time and support in helping us learn more about health and wellbeing apps for people with bipolar disorder!
Participate in the Survey
Help us create an app that improves quality of life for those living with bipolar disorder! When you complete the survey, you can enter a draw to win $50.
I’m a person living with bipolar disorder who would like to participate.
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I’m a health care provider who would like to participate.
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Aitken, M., Clancy, B., & Nass, D. J. I. I. f. H. D. S. (2017). The growing value of digital health: evidence and impact on human health and the healthcare system.
Murnane, E. L., Cosley, D., Chang, P., Guha, S., Frank, E., Gay, G., & Matthews, M. (2016). Self-monitoring practices, attitudes, and needs of individuals with bipolar disorder: Implications for the design of technologies to manage mental health. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 23(3), 477-484. doi:10.1093/jamia/ocv165
Neary, M., & Schueller, S. M. (2018). State of the Field of Mental Health Apps. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 25(4), 531-537. doi:
Nicholas, J., Boydell, K., & Christensen, H. (2017). Self-management in young adults with bipolar disorder: Strategies and challenges. Journal of Affective Disorders, 209, 201-208. doi:
Torous, J., Firth, J., Huckvale, K., Larsen, M. E., Cosco, T. D., Carney, R., . . . Christensen, H. (2018). The Emerging Imperative for a Consensus Approach Toward the Rating and Clinical Recommendation of Mental Health Apps. J Nerv Ment Dis, 206(8).
Previous Posts about Bipolar Bridges
Our first group planning session — a “whiteboarding session” — for Bipolar Bridges was hosted on Friday, November 15th.
It’s the perfect day for CREST.BD to officially launch our flagship project: ‘Bipolar Bridges: A Digital Health Innovation Targeting Quality of Life in Bipolar Disorder.’
The project will build on CREST.BD’s digital health work to develop a new mobile app – Bipolar Bridges – which will take advantage of advances in online technologies…