An App a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: Guided Education and Training via Smartphones in Subthreshold Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Michael J. Roy*, Michelle E. Costanzo, Krista B. Highland, Cara Olsen, Denece Clayborne, Wendy Law

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms are common in military service members (SMs), but stigma can impede treatment initiation. Smartphone applications (apps) are available anywhere, anytime, with the potential to both mitigate the impact of stigma and reduce PTSD symptom severity. We provided 144 SMs or family members, with subthreshold PTSD symptoms (PTSD Checklist [PCL] scores of 28-49), with apps promoting psychoeducation, social engagement, and relaxation and randomized them to 6 weeks of resilience enhancement (brief cognitive-behavioral session, followed by daily text messages directing app use) or a control group (daily text messages of inspirational quotes). Participants (54 percent males, 87 percent SMs) in both groups reported reductions in PTSD, anxiety, and depression symptoms during the 6-week intervention, which were sustained at 3 months, but exhibited partial rebound at 6-12 months. Our preliminary results suggest that app use, with or without specific direction, feasibly and effectively reduces symptom severity. Future studies should consider a longer intervention, enhanced compliance tracking, or boosters to sustain benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-478
Number of pages9
JournalCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume20
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cell phones
  • Combat stress
  • Mindfulness
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Resilience

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