A Web-Based App for Emotional Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic : Platform Development and Retrospective Analysis of its Use Throughout Two Waves of the Outbreak in Spain

Sara Guila Fidel Kinori, Gerard Carot-Sans, Andrés Cuartero, Damià Valero-Bover, Rosa Roma Monfa, Elisabet García, Pol Pérez-Sust, Jordi Blanch, Jordi Piera-Jiménez, Josep Antoni Ramos-Quiroga

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Resumen

Quarantines and nationwide lockdowns implemented for containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to distress and increase the frequency of anxiety and depression symptoms among the general population. During the nationwide lockdown of the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in Spain, we developed and launched a web-based app to promote emotional self-care in the general population and facilitate contact with health care professionals. This study aimed to describe a web-based app and analyze its utilization pattern throughout 2 successive waves of the COVID-19 outbreak in Spain. Our web-based app targeted all individuals aged 18 years or more and was designed by adapting the contents of a mobile app for adjuvant treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (ie, the PTSD Coach app) to the general population and the pandemic or lockdown scenario. We retrospectively assessed the utilization pattern of the web-based app using data systematically retrieved from Google Analytics. Data were grouped into 3 time periods, defined using Joinpoint regression analysis of COVID-19 incidence in our area: first wave, between-wave period, and second wave. The resulting web-based app, named gesioemocional.cat, maintains the navigation structure of the PTSD Coach app, with three main modules: tools for emotional self-care, a self-assessment test, and professional resources for on-demand contact. The self-assessment test combines the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 and the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale and offers professional contact in the advent of a high level of depression and anxiety; contact is prioritized in accordance with a screening questionnaire administered at the time of obtaining individual consent to be contacted. The tools for emotional self-care can be accessed either on-demand or symptom-driven. The utilization analysis showed a high number of weekly accesses during the first wave. In this period, press releases regarding critical events of the pandemic progression and government decisions on containment measures were followed by a utilization peak, irrespective of the sense (ie, positive or negative) of the information. Positive information pieces (eg, relaxation of containment measures due to a reduction of COVID-19 cases) resulted in a sharp increase in utilization immediately after information release, followed by a successive decline in utilization. The second wave was characterized by a lower and less responsive utilization of the web-based app. mHealth tools may help the general population cope with stressful conditions associated with the pandemic scenario. Future studies shall investigate the effectiveness of these tools among the general population-including individuals without diagnosed mental illnesses-and strategies to reach as many people as possible
Idioma originalInglés
PublicaciónJMIR Formative Research
Volumen6
DOI
EstadoPublicada - 2022

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