Daily electronic monitoring of subjective and objective measures of illness activity in bipolar disorder using smartphones--the MONARCA II trial protocol: a randomized controlled single-blind parallel-group trial

BMC Psychiatry. 2014 Nov 25;14:309. doi: 10.1186/s12888-014-0309-5.


Background: Patients with bipolar disorder often show decreased adherence with mood stabilizers and frequently interventions on prodromal depressive and manic symptoms are delayed. Recently, the MONARCA I randomized controlled trial investigated the effect of electronic self-monitoring using smartphones on depressive and manic symptoms. The findings suggested that patients using the MONARCA system had more sustained depressive symptoms than patients using a smartphone for normal communicative purposes, but had fewer manic symptoms during the trial. It is likely that the ability of these self-monitored measures to detect prodromal symptoms of depression and mania may be insufficient compared to automatically generated objective data on measures of illness activity such as phone usage, social activity, physical activity, and mobility. The Monsenso system, for smartphones integrating subjective and objective measures of illness activity was developed and will be tested in the present trial.

Methods: The MONARCA II trial uses a randomized controlled single-blind parallel-group design. Patients with bipolar disorder according to ICD-10 who previously have been treated at the Copenhagen Clinic for Affective Disorder, Denmark are included and randomized to either daily use of the Monsenso system including an feedback loop between patients and clinicians (the intervention group) or to the use of a smartphone for normal communicative purposes (the control group) for a 9-month trial period. The trial was started in September 2014 and recruitment is ongoing. The outcomes are: differences in depressive and manic symptoms; rate of depressive and manic episodes (primary); automatically generated objective data on measures of illness activity; number of days hospitalized; psychosocial functioning (secondary); perceived stress; quality of life; self-rated depressive symptoms; self-rated manic symptoms; recovery; empowerment and adherence to medication (tertiary) between the intervention group and the control group during the trial. Ethical permission has been obtained. Positive, neutral and negative findings will be published.

Discussion: If the system is effective in reducing depressive and/or manic symptoms (and other symptoms of bipolar disorder) and the rate of episodes, there will be basis for extending the use to the treatment of bipolar disorder in general and in larger scale.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02221336. Registered 26th of September 2014.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Cell Phone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Communication
  • Comorbidity
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation / methods
  • Patient Participation / psychology
  • Patient Participation / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Research Design*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Social Behavior
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02221336