Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Mobile Health: App Investigation and Scoping Literature Review

Carolina Rodriguez-Paras, Kathryn Tippey, Elaine Brown, Farzan Sasangohar, Suzannah Creech, Hye-Chung Kum, Mark Lawley, Justin K Benzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a prevalent mental health issue among veterans. Access to PTSD treatment is influenced by geographic (ie, travel distance to facilities), temporal (ie, time delay between services), financial (ie, eligibility and cost of services), and cultural (ie, social stigma) barriers.

OBJECTIVE: The emergence of mobile health (mHealth) apps has the potential to bridge many of these access gaps by providing remote resources and monitoring that can offer discrete assistance to trauma survivors with PTSD and enhance patient-clinician relationships. In this study, we investigate the current mHealth capabilities relevant to PTSD.

METHODS: This study consists of two parts: (1) a review of publicly available PTSD apps designed to determine the availability of PTSD apps, which includes more detailed information about three dominant apps and (2) a scoping literature review performed using a systematic method to determine app usage and efforts toward validation of such mHealth apps. App usage relates to how the end users (eg, clinicians and patients) are interacting with the app, whereas validation is testing performed to ensure the app's purpose and specifications are met.

RESULTS: The results suggest that though numerous apps have been developed to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD symptoms, few apps were designed to be integrated with clinical PTSD treatment, and minimal efforts have been made toward enhancing the usability and validation of PTSD apps.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings expose the need for studies relating to the human factors evaluation of such tools, with the ultimate goal of increasing access to treatment and widening the app adoption rate for patients with PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e156
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 26 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Journal Article


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