5-Step App Evaluation Model

APP ADVISOR: American Psychiatric Association Initiative. Source: https://www.psychiatry.org/ psychiatrists/practice/mental-health-apps/the-appevaluation- model. Accessed Oct 2021.
  • Apps offer interesting possibilities for mental health with the potential to help monitor symptoms and even deliver adjunctive treatments. For example, many apps offer to help track mood symptoms and access to therapy inspired exercises and lessons. Currently, there are apps targeting all major psychiatric illness and therapeutic modalities.
  • The goal of APA App Advisor’s 5-step evaluation process is to employ a hierarchical rating system and embedded rubric so that APA members, patients, and other providers, become familiar with important information that should be considered when picking an app, and how this differs from choosing more traditional therapeutic interventions.
  • In doing so, the psychiatrist and the patient gain sufficient information from which to make an informed decision that they deem correct for their own situation.

Two Available Online Resources

APA’s App Advisor
Main questions that are asked as part of the APA’s 5-step app evaluation model*: 
  1. On which platforms/operating systems does the app work? Does it also work on a desktop computer?
  2. Has the app been updated in the last 180 days?
  3. Is there a transparent privacy policy?
  4. Does the app collect, use, and/or transmit sensitive data? If yes, does it claim to do so securely?
  5. Is there evidence of proven benefit from academic institutions, end user feedback, or research studies?
  6. Does the app have a clinical foundation relevant to your intended use?
  7. Is the app easy to use?
  8. Can data be easily shared and interpreted in a way that’s consistent with the stated purpose of the app?

M-Health Index and Navigation Database (MIND)
  1. Search over 500 mental health-related apps across 100 categories
  2. Identify apps that match the APA App Evaluation framework
  3. Compare apps by cost, device type, engagement features, and more.
* Additional questions in each of the 5 steps are asked to elicit further details related to that area.
APA’s App Advisor
M-Health Index and Navigation Database (MIND)