Usability of a Culturally Informed mHealth Intervention for Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression: Feedback From Young Sexual Minority Men.

Journal Title: 
Publication Date: 
Aug 26, 2017

BACKGROUND: To date, we are aware of no interventions for anxiety and depression developed as mobile phone apps and tailored to young sexual minority men, a group especially at risk of anxiety and depression. We developed TODAY!, a culturally informed mobile phone intervention for young men who are attracted to men and who have clinically significant symptoms of anxiety or depression. The core of the intervention consists of daily psychoeducation informed by transdiagnostic cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and a set of tools to facilitate putting these concepts into action, with regular mood ratings that result in tailored feedback (eg, tips for current distress and visualizations of mood by context).

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to conduct usability testing to understand how young sexual minority men interact with the app, to inform later stages of intervention development.

METHODS: Participants (n=9) were young sexual minority men aged 18-20 years (Mean=19.00, standard deviation [SD]=0.71; 44% black, 44% white, and 11.1% Latino), who endorsed at least mild depression and anxiety symptoms. Participants were recruited via flyers, emails to college lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations, Web-based advertisements, another researcher's database of sexual minority youth interested in research participation, and word of mouth. During recorded interviews, participants were asked to think out loud while interacting with the TODAY! app on a mobile phone or with paper prototypes. Feedback identified from these recordings and from associated field notes were subjected to thematic analysis using a general inductive approach. To aid interpretation of results, methods and results are reported according to the consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ).

RESULTS: Thematic analysis of usability feedback revealed a theme of general positive feedback, as well as six recurring themes that informed continued development: (1) functionality (eg, highlight new material when available), (2) personalization (eg, more tailored feedback), (3) presentation (eg, keep content brief), (4) aesthetics (eg, use brighter colors), (5) LGBT or youth content (eg, add content about coming out), and (6) barriers to use (eg, perceiving psychoeducation as homework).

CONCLUSIONS: Feedback from usability testing was vital to understanding what young sexual minority men desire from a mobile phone intervention for symptoms of anxiety and depression and was used to inform the ongoing development of such an intervention.