Clinicians' perspective on an app for patient self-monitoring in eating disorder treatment

Int J Eat Disord. 2018 Apr;51(4):314-321. doi: 10.1002/eat.22833. Epub 2018 Feb 22.


Objective: The Recovery Record smartphone app is a self-monitoring tool for individuals recovering from eating disorders. Oppositely to traditional pen-and-paper meal diaries, the app allows for in-app patient-clinician linkage enabling clinicians to access patient app data anytime. The aim of our study was to explore the interdisciplinary clinical perspective on Recovery Record and its impact on treatment.

Method: Thirty-one clinicians from a Danish eating disorder treatment facility participated in field studies and 23 of these in interviews. Data were generated and analyzed concurrently applying the inductive methodology of Interpretive Description.

Results: We found two overarching themes: "Access to app data between treatment sessions", and "The patient-clinician relationship". Sub-themes associated with the former were "Online obligations" in relation to the added workload of continuously monitoring patient app data, and "Prepared or prejudiced" relating to advantages and disadvantages of using patient app data as preparation for treatment sessions. Sub-themes pertaining to the latter were "Expectation discrepancy" in relation to patients' and clinicians' divergent expectations for app usage, and "Pacified patients" regarding the clinicians' experience that the app potentially compromised the patient initiative in treatment sessions.

Discussion: Recovery Record induced new and affected pre-existing treatment and work conditions for clinicians. Clinicians were preoccupied with challenges associated with the app, for example, an added work load and potential harm to the patient-clinician collaboration. Thus, prior to adopting the app, we encourage clinicians and managements to discuss the objectives, advantages and disadvantages of adopting the app, and outline specific guidelines for patient and clinician app usage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Applications / trends*
  • Self-Control / psychology*
  • Smartphone / instrumentation*