Objective: To document the quality of web and smartphone apps used and recommended for stress, anxiety or depression by examining the manner in which they were developed.
Design: The study was conducted using a survey sent to developers of National Health Service (NHS) e-therapies.
Data sources: Data were collected via a survey sent out to NHS e-therapy developers during October 2015 and review of development company websites during October 2015.
Data collection/extraction methods: Data were compiled from responses to the survey and development company websites of the NHS e-therapies developers.
Results: A total of 36 (76.6%) out of the 48 app developers responded. One app was excluded due to its contact details and developer website being unidentifiable. Data from the missing 10 was determined from the app developer's website. The results were that 12 out of 13 web apps and 20 out of 34 smartphone apps had clinical involvement in their development. Nine out of 13 web apps and nine out of 34 smartphone apps indicated academic involvement in their development. Twelve out of 13 web apps and nine out of 34 smartphone apps indicated published research evidence relating to their app. Ten out of 13 web apps and 10 out of 34 smartphone apps indicated having other evidence relating to their app. Nine out of 13 web apps and 19 out of 34 smartphone apps indicated having a psychological approach or theory behind their app.
Conclusions: As an increasing number of developers are looking to produce e-therapies for the NHS it is essential they apply clinical and academic best practices to ensure the creation of safe and effective apps.
Keywords: NHS; anxiety; depression; e-therapies; stress.
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