By the numbers: ratings and utilization of behavioral health mobile applications

NPJ Digit Med. 2019 Jun 17;2:54. doi: 10.1038/s41746-019-0129-6. eCollection 2019.


Although >10,000 behavioral health applications ("apps") are currently available on the Apple and Google Play marketplaces, they have been minimally evaluated or regulated and little is known about "real world" usage patterns. This investigation combined data from online behavioral health app rating frameworks and a mobile health market research firm to identify the most downloaded apps as well as determine rating and ranking concordance between frameworks. Findings demonstrated that the most commonly downloaded apps focus on relaxation, mindfulness, and meditation skills and that they often have notably discordant reviews across rating frameworks. Our results suggest that there is a growing need for: (1) standardized behavioral health app quality and effectiveness measures, (2) up-to-date behavioral health app guidance for clinicians and consumers, and (3) evidence-based apps that incorporate revealed consumer preferences.

Keywords: Health care economics; Health policy; Health services; Public health.