Acceptability, Engagement, and Exploratory Outcomes of an Emotional Well-being App: Mixed Methods Preliminary Evaluation and Descriptive Analysis

JMIR Form Res. 2021 Nov 1;5(11):e31064. doi: 10.2196/31064.


Background: There is growing evidence suggesting that the emotional well-being of the public has been negatively affected in the past year. Consequently, demand for well-being support has increased. Although there is substantial empirical support for mental health apps that target diagnosed conditions, there is less research on emotional well-being apps. Among existing well-being apps, few studies have been conducted on apps that are based on lived experience and those that seek to enhance users' understanding of their emotional patterns. Thus, the acceptability of these novel apps requires further evaluation before upscaling.

Objective: This evaluation aims to describe the acceptability, engagement, and preliminary outcomes of using an app (Paradym) designed to promote emotional well-being and positive mental health.

Methods: This is a pre-post, mixed-methods, single-arm evaluation that is aggregated with digital analytics data. We anonymously collected real-world data on the demographics and well-being of the participants as well as the usability and acceptance of the app using validated questionnaires and open-ended questions. Participants tested the app for a minimum of 2 weeks before completing the follow-up measures. Google Analytics was used to record the level of app engagement. Chi-square and 2-tailed t tests were conducted to analyze quantitative data, and a thematic analysis approach was adopted for qualitative data.

Results: A total of 115 participants completed baseline questionnaires, of which 79.1% (91/115) users downloaded the app. The sample was diverse in terms of ethnicity, including 43.4% (50/115) people who self-identified as belonging to minority ethnic groups. Most of the participants were female (78/115, 67.8%) and between the ages of 18 and 25 years (39/115, 33.9%). A total of 34 app users who completed questionnaires at baseline and follow-up provided valuable feedback to inform the future directions of Paradym. Favorable themes emerged describing the app's content, functionality, and underlying principles. Although usability feedback varied across items, a considerable number of participants (22/34, 64%) found that the app was easy to use. Google Analytics revealed that at least 79% (27/34) of people used the app daily. On the basis of preliminary observations, app users experience increased mental well-being. Post hoc analyses indicated that the reduction in depression scores (t33=-2.16) and the increase in the well-being measures (t33=2.87) were statistically significant. No adverse events were reported during the follow-up period.

Conclusions: The findings of this evaluation are encouraging and document positive preliminary evidence for the Paradym app.

Keywords: app; awareness; formative; mental health; mobile phone; smartphone; well-being.