Usability of a Smartphone Application to Support the Prevention and Early Intervention of Anxiety in Youth.
Anxiety disorders are among the most common psychiatric problems in youth, fail to spontaneously remit, and place some youth at risk for additional behavioral and emotional difficulties. Efforts to target anxiety have resulted in evidence-based interventions but the resulting prevention effects are relatively small, often weakening over time. Mobile health (mHealth) tools could be of use to strengthen the effects of anxiety prevention efforts. Although a large number of mHealth apps have been developed, few have been evaluated in terms of usability prior to clinical effectiveness testing. Because usability is one of the main barriers to mHealth usage and adoption, the objective of this research was to evaluate the usability of a smartphone application (app) corresponding to an indicated prevention and early intervention targeting youth anxiety. To accomplish this, 132 children (M age = 9.65; 63% girls) and 45 service providers (M age = 29.13, 87% female) rated our app along five established dimensions of usability (ease of use, ease of learning, quality of support information, satisfaction, and stigma) using a standardized group-based testing protocol. Findings showed that the app was highly and positively rated by both youth and providers, with some variations (lower ratings when errors occurred). Path analyses findings also showed that system understanding was significantly related to greater system satisfaction, but that such relation occurred through the quality of support information offered by the app.