Mental health apps garner little engagement, Microsoft study finds

New research published in JAMA Network Open reveals that while mental health apps may be attracting an abundance of users, patient engagement on these apps remains relatively low.

These findings come from a study published July 17 and conducted by Microsoft, Dublin-based Trinity College and SilverCloud Health, an online mental health company. The study involved more than 54,604 users of a 14-week online cognitive behavioral therapy program focused on anxiety and depression. 

The participants were grouped into five categories based on their interactions with the program: low engagers, late engagers, high engagers with rapid disengagement, high engagers with moderate decrease and highest engagers. The first three categories constituted 83.4 percent of participants. 

The study discovered that higher engagers exhibited more clinical improvement than those who showed low engagement or rapid engagement decline. However, the authors noted that clinical improvement may not always align with time spent engaging with online health tools, as each patient has different methods that work best for them.

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