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Not All Apps Are Worthy of Mention

MentionHow do you evaluate the apps you mention to your clients and patients? Do you look at app reviews? Consider the underlying theory? Do you look for data about scientific support for the app itself?

Do the apps you suggest have an alert that lights up the screen to show a message, but also lets the world know that you client is an alcoholic? Are the apps you suggest password protected so family and friends can’t get in and see your client/patient’s inner most thoughts? Do they transmit protected health information (PHI), controlled by laws such as HIPAA? Do they make false or even preposterous claims?

Rochelle Sharpe and her students untook a study to find the top worst apps in health care, and found some remarkably suspicious claims. Consider the following app, discussed in The Washington Post’s “Health & Science” section that reported Sharpe’s study:

Breast Augmentation, sold on Google Play for 99 cents, attempts to capitalize on the notion that breast-feeding women have larger breasts. While lactating women’s breasts may get bigger when they fill with milk, Breast Augmentation claims that all kinds of women can get larger breasts just by listening to the sounds of a crying baby at least 20 times a day, a claim that experts say has no basis. “The tone works by stimulating the brain subliminally,” the app’s advertisement says.

A spokesman for the developer, CowKnow, said in an e-mail that despite lack of scientific proof, there have been many positive comments from users. “I suppose that effects depend on the subject, possible brain suggestion and placebo effect,” the spokesman wrote.

See the full article here: “Many health apps are based on flimsy science at best, and they often do not work.” (Chris Barber).

How do you think mental health clinicians should evaluate the apps they suggest to their clients/patients? Please leave your thoughts below.

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