Patient Preferences for Mobile Health Applications to Support Recovery

J Addict Med. 2023 Jul-Aug;17(4):394-400. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000001137. Epub 2023 Jan 18.


Introduction: Smartphone apps to support individuals in recovery from substance use disorders (SUDs) are increasingly available. Although many people with SUDs express interest in recovery support apps, few try them or use them long-term. Strategies like gamification and contingency management are increasingly being considered to sustain engagement. This study sought to describe features of a recovery support app called the Addiction version of the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-CHESS) that are most used by individuals in SUD recovery and what makes individuals more likely to use these apps.

Methods: A total of 202 people with A-CHESS accounts completed an online survey assessing their experiences using A-CHESS between April and June 2021. We described app features reported to be most beneficial for managing anxiety, loneliness, and isolation during COVID-19; reasons for not using A-CHESS; and suggested app features for future recovery support apps.

Results: Respondents had a mean age of 41 years, 85% were White, and 61% were female. Respondents reported that app features related to messaging (ie, open discussion boards and private messaging) and informational or motivational resources were the most useful for managing isolation, anxiety, and loneliness. Reasons for not using A-CHESS were not knowing how to use the app and the app not being part of a personalized treatment plan. The most common suggested components for future apps were rewards for meeting goals and a support meeting locator.

Conclusions: Ensuring that health apps are intuitive and include features that appeal to patients and educating patients about features apps already include that help them meet goals may enhance engagement with recovery apps.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Patient Preference
  • Substance-Related Disorders*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemedicine*