Smartphone Apps for Schizophrenia: A Systematic Review

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2015 Nov 6;3(4):e102. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.4930.


Background: There is increasing interest in using mobile technologies such as smartphones for improving the care of patients with schizophrenia. However, less is known about the current clinical evidence for the feasibility and effectiveness of smartphone apps in this population.

Objective: To review the published literature of smartphone apps applied for the care of patients with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

Methods: An electronic database search of Ovid MEDLINE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Health Technology Assessment Database, Allied and Complementary Medicine, Health and Psychosocial Instruments, PsycINFO, and Embase was conducted on May 24, 2015. All eligible studies were systematically reviewed, and proportional meta-analyses were applied to pooled data on recruitment, retention, and adherence to examine the overall feasibility of smartphone interventions for schizophrenia.

Results: Our search produced 226 results from which 7 eligible articles were identified, reporting on 5 studies of smartphone apps for patients with schizophrenia. All examined feasibility, and one assessed the preliminary efficacy of a smartphone intervention for schizophrenia. Study lengths varied between 6 and 130 days. Overall retention was 92% (95% CI 82-98%). Participants consistently used the smartphone apps on more than 85% of days during the study period, averaging 3.95 interactions per person per day. Furthermore, participants responded to 71.9% of automated prompts (95% CI 65.7-77.8%). Participants reported a range of potential benefits from the various interventions, and user experience was largely positive.

Conclusions: Although small, the current published literature demonstrates strong evidence for the feasibility of using smartphones to enhance the care of people with schizophrenia. High rates of engagement and satisfaction with a broad range of apps suggest the nascent potential of this mobile technology. However, there remains limited data on the efficacy of such interventions.

Keywords: eHealth; fitness; mHealth; psychosis; schizophrenia; smartphones; technology; wearables.