Improving mental health in U.S. Veterans using mHealth tools: A pilot study

Chase Latour, Lorcan O’Byrne, Margaret McCarthy, Ravi Chacko, Elizabeth Russell, Rumi Kato Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Rates of PTSD remain elevated among U.S. Veterans, highlighting a need for innovative management tools. Previous studies have shown mobile apps to have positive effects on PTSD symptoms, but few apps have been examined systematically. This pilot study evaluated the perceived effectiveness and usability of Mindset, a novel mobile app that monitors user stress level via heart rate to encourage e-therapy use. The study sample included 30 community-residing Veterans who completed baseline assessments. They used the Mindset app and associated smartwatch until their approximate 1-month follow-up. Self-reported assessments included pre- and post-deployment experiences; experience with Mindset; and standard screeners for PTSD (PCL-M), anxiety (GAD-7), depression (PHQ-9), and alcohol use problems (AUDIT). Among the 24 participants who completed follow-up interviews, a significant decrease (p < 0.05) was found in PCL-M, PHQ-9, and modified AUDIT scores. Respondents reported moderate to high acceptance and satisfaction with Mindset features, though considerable frustration with the associated smartwatch. These findings highlight mHealth apps such as Mindset as potentially useful tools for PTSD and depression symptom management. These findings are also encouraging in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which may accelerate further innovation and implementation of mHealth technologies to improve mental health self-care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3201-3214
Number of pages14
JournalHealth Informatics Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • U.S. Veterans
  • mental health
  • mobile applications
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • stress monitor


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