Category: Technology


Development and Pilot Testing of a Behavioral Activation Mobile App (“Moodivate”) for Dissemination via Primary Care

Sunday, November 19
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom E & F, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Depression | Behavioral Activation | Technology / Mobile Health
Presentation Type: Symposium

Individuals with depressive symptomatology most frequently report their symptoms within primary care settings (Mitchell et al., 2009). Primary care providers (PCPs) are in a unique position to provide evidence-based psychological interventions for depression, but most lack tools to facilitate treatment delivery (McDowell et al., 2011). Mobile technologies offer an ideal strategy to meet widespread treatment needs, as current estimates suggest that 77% of U.S. adults own smartphones. Among evidence-based psychotherapies for depression, brief Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression (BATD; Lejuez et al., 2011) has shown great promise and is particularly amenable to mHealth delivery. As such, aims of the current study include: 1) Development of a self-help BATD mobile app for dissemination via primary care and 2) Examination of feasibility and preliminary efficacy via a pilot randomized clinical trial (RCT).

Utilizing an agile software development approach, we translated BATD into a mobile app (“Moodivate”) and are preliminarily testing feasibility and efficacy within an ongoing pilot RCT. Study recruitment is ongoing in partnership with MUSC’s Department of Family Medicine. Inclusion criteria are: 1) ages 18-65, 2) current elevated depression (BDI-II > 14), and 3) smartphone ownership. Participants are excluded on the basis of a current major depressive episode or enrollment in psychotherapy. Study participants (N=60, n=20 recruited to date) are randomized to one of three treatment conditions: 1) Moodivate, 2) an active control mobile app, or 3) treatment as usual (i.e., no app). All complete weekly follow-up assessments online remotely for a total of eight weeks to assess depression, treatment utilization, feasibility, and related constructs. Data collection will be completed in August, 2017 and all outcome data will be available for conference proceedings. Primary study outcomes will be examined as a function of treatment condition and include: 1) change in depressive symptoms; 2) treatment utilization, defined as frequency of app utilization and rolling retention; 3) change in process-related variables (i.e., activation, environmental reward); and 4) feasibility (ease of use, desire to continue use, perceived benefits).

With examination of treatment efficacy underway, Moodivate may be a promising mobile app adaptation of BATD to extend the menu of treatment options for PCPs and their patients with elevated depressive symptoms. Mhealth interventions have the potential to improve accessibility of evidence-based interventions for patients in need who are unlikely to utilize traditional mental health treatments. 

Jennifer Dahne

Medical University of South Carolina


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Development and Pilot Testing of a Behavioral Activation Mobile App (“Moodivate”) for Dissemination via Primary Care

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