I recently came across a very interesting paper that I think points out the timely need for PsyberGuide and its mission to objectively review apps for mental illness. The paper is entitled: “Mobile Apps for Bipolar Disorder: A Systematic Review of Features and Content Quality,” published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The study was conducted by Jennifer Nicholas and her colleagues in Sydney Australia. They attempted to identify all English apps for bipolar disorder and to check on various aspects of their content. They found 517 apps, 82 of which met their very simple criteria for further review. Of these apps, only 22% had a stated privacy policy, only 36% of the apps that claimed to provide psychoeducation contained the accepted “core principles” of this technique, and only 15% of apps that claimed to provide psychoeducation followed best practice guidelines. None of the apps had been evaluated in a research study and only 31% cited a source for the information they contained. In addition, neither the comprehensiveness of the psychoeducation content, nor the adherence to best practice guidelines, was correlated to user ratings. Finally, many of the symptom monitoring apps failed to measure critical data elements such as medication adherence or sleep patterns.

This article points how easily it might be for users to buy an app that differs widely from accepted standards of care, and which therefore, could potentially lead to harm.