Development of the shift smartphone app to support the emotional well-being of junior physicians : Design of a prototype and results of usability and acceptability testing

Journal article


Counson, Isabelle, Bartholomew, Alexandra, Crawford, Joanna, Petrie, Katherine, Basarkod, Geetanjali, Moynihan, Victoria, Pires, Josie, Cohen, Rachel, Glozier, Nicholas, Harvey, Samuel and Sanatkar, Samineh. (2021). Development of the shift smartphone app to support the emotional well-being of junior physicians : Design of a prototype and results of usability and acceptability testing. JMIR Formative Research. 5(12), p. Article e26370. https://doi.org/10.2196/26370
AuthorsCounson, Isabelle, Bartholomew, Alexandra, Crawford, Joanna, Petrie, Katherine, Basarkod, Geetanjali, Moynihan, Victoria, Pires, Josie, Cohen, Rachel, Glozier, Nicholas, Harvey, Samuel and Sanatkar, Samineh
Abstract

Background:
Junior physicians report higher levels of psychological distress than senior doctors and report several barriers to seeking professional mental health support, including concerns about confidentiality and career progression. Mobile health (mHealth) apps may be utilized to help overcome these barriers to assist the emotional well-being of this population and encourage help-seeking.

Objective:
This study describes the development and pilot trial of the Shift mHealth app to provide an unobtrusive avenue for junior physicians to seek information about, and help for, well-being and mental health concerns, which is sensitive to workplace settings.

Methods:
A 4-phase iterative development process was undertaken to create the content and features of Shift involving junior physicians using the principles of user-centered design. These 4 phases were—needs assessment, on the basis of interviews with 12 junior physicians; prototype development with user experience feedback from 2 junior physicians; evaluation, consisting of a pilot trial with 22 junior physicians to assess the usability and acceptability of the initial prototype; and redesign, including user experience workshops with 51 junior physicians.

Results:
Qualitative results informed the content and design of Shift to ensure that the app was tailored to junior physicians’ needs. The Shift app prototype contained cognitive behavioral, mindfulness, value-based actions, and psychoeducational modules, as well as a tracking function that visualized patterns of daily variations in mood and health behaviors. Pilot-testing revealed possible issues with the organization of the app content, which were addressed through a thorough restructuring and redesign of Shift with the help of junior physicians across 3 user experience workshops.

Conclusions:
This study demonstrates the importance of ongoing end user involvement in the creation of a specialized mHealth app for a unique working population experiencing profession-specific stressors and barriers to help-seeking. The development and pilot trial of this novel Shift mHealth app are the first steps in addressing the mental health and support-seeking needs of junior physicians, although further research is required to validate its effectiveness and appropriateness on a larger scale.

Keywordsdigital mental health; mHealth apps; help-seeking; junior physicians; co-design; user-centered design; mobile phone
Year2021
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Journal citation5 (12), p. Article e26370
PublisherJMIR Publications Inc.
ISSN2561-326X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.2196/26370
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85103663238
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Page range1-14
FunderMinistry of Health, New South Wales
icare Foundation
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online02 Dec 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted21 Oct 2021
Deposited01 Dec 2022
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