Self-directed engagement with a mobile app (Sinasprite) and its effects on confidence in coping skills, depression, and anxiety: Retrospective longitudinal study

Armando Silva Almodovar, Swatee Surve, David Rhys Axon, David Cooper, Milap C. Nahata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Inadequacies in mental health care coverage remain an enormous problem in the United States. Barriers include scarcity of accessible mental health care professionals. Use of a mental health mobile app incorporating social cognitive theory may help improve confidence in coping skills and improve anxiety and depression. Sinasprite is a mobile app that recruited users via self-referral and clinician referral. Users completed questionnaires to obtain demographic and medical histories. At baseline and 6-week follow-up, users completed the Patient Health Questionnaire 8 (PHQ-8), General Anxiety Disorder 7-Item (GAD-7), and the Coping Self-Efficacy Scale (CSE). It is unknown how self-directed use of a mobile app improves confidence in coping skills and its effects on self-reported depression and anxiety. Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the Sinasprite database to assess self-directed engagement and how use of this mobile app impacted self-reported confidence in coping skills and severity of depression and anxiety. Methods: This retrospective longitudinal study involved users recruited via clinician referral and self-referral through social media and news media. Questionnaires were used to record demographic, medical, and prescription medication histories. Mental health status was assessed via PHQ-8, GAD-7, and CSE questionnaires. A deidentified dataset reporting mobile app use data was provided to investigators. Individuals with verifiable usage data and at least one completed questionnaire at 6 weeks of use were included. Mann–Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to assess whether demographic data and psychotherapy were related to baseline questionnaire scores and usage. A Spearman rho (ρ) test was used to assess the relationship between improvement in the CSE and GAD-7 and PHQ-8 questionnaires. Changes in mental health status were assessed using Wilcoxon signed-rank test. A mixed-effects repeated-measures linear regression model assessed the main effects of time, concomitant counseling, and psychotropic prescription medication use on mental health status. Results: Thirty-four users were eligible for inclusion in the analysis. Users were predominantly female, white, married, and college educated. At baseline, 35% (12/34) of respondents reported the use of individual/group counseling, and 38% (19/34) reported using prescription medications for their mental health. The median user completed 5.7 (interquartile range 2.7-14.1) trackable activities per week. Statistically significant improvements using a Wilcoxon signed-ranked test were observed in the PHQ-8 (P<.001), GAD-7 (P=.002), and CSE (P<.001) questionnaire scores. A strong positive correlation between improvement in the GAD-7 and CSE questionnaire scores (ρ=.572, P=.001, n=28) was observed. The mixed-effects repeated-measures regression model revealed a statistically significant effect of time on improvements in the PHQ-8 (P<.001), GAD-7 (P=.007), and CSE (P=.001). Conclusions: This 6-week retrospective study showed that self-directed use of the mobile app, Sinasprite, resulted in significant improvements in self-reported questionnaire scores reflecting depression, anxiety, and confidence in coping skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere64
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Longitudinal studies
  • Mental health
  • Mobile apps
  • Retrospective studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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