What is the study about?
This project seeks to understand if a new self-help mobile phone application (called MyMoodCoach) is effective at reducing worry and overthinking. Worry and overthinking are risk factors that predict reduced well-being and poor mental health. We want to test if the app is effective at reducing these in the short-term, over 6 weeks.
Purpose of the research:
There are many mobile phone applications which claim to improve wellbeing and improve mental health. However, very few of these apps have been robustly scientifically tested. The goal of this project is to test if the MyMoodCoach App is helpful for reducing worry.
What will I have to do?
We will ask you to complete questions about your mood, well-being, worry and overthinking at the start of the study using an online questionnaire, and then again at follow-ups at 6 weeks and 12 weeks. We will also ask you to use the MyMoodCoach self-help app for at least several weeks. By chance (50%) you will either be offered the app within a few days of starting the study or after a period of six weeks.
Who can take part?
We are looking to recruit young adults, aged from 16-24 years old, in the UK who experience high levels of worry, overthinking and rumination (repeated thinking about sad mood and difficulties), as measured by our initial screening questionnaires. We will ask you to complete online questionnaires to see if the study is likely to be right for you. If you currently have clinical depression or other mental health conditions (such as bipolar disorder or psychosis) then you cannot take part. This is because the study and the App is focused on promoting well-being rather than treating current problems. If you can’t take part, the survey will direct you to other sources of help and advice, and you can find more information at our mental health resources page. Only people who score above threshold scores on the measures of worry and overthinking will be able to take part.
Allocation to the MyMoodCoach App
All individuals who are found to be suitable for the study are selected at chance to either receive the App at start of the study (50% chance) or to receive the app after a period of six weeks (50% chance). By comparing how people do over those first six weeks, we can learn whether the app does help people to tackle worry and overthinking and improve well-being.
How do I access the App?
If you are suitable for the study, we will send you instructions via email telling you how to access the MyMoodCoach App on your mobile phone (it will need to be ioS compatible – iOS 9 or later or Android compatible, version 8.0 or later). You will need to have access to the internet via mobile data or Wi-Fi for the App to work.
How long would I need to use the App for?
You can use the App for as often as you like during the study. We recommend using it most days for at least a month to get the most benefit.
Do I have to take part?
No, it is up to you to decide whether to take part. If you agree to take part, you will need to sign a consent form online. Taking part is entirely voluntary. If you take part, you are free to withdraw at any time without giving a reason.
Is my data confidential and private?
All information collected about you will be kept strictly confidential. The main exception is if in an email or a telephone call with us, you reported significant difficulties or risk of harm to yourself. In this case, we may contact your doctor (or another trusted person) providing you have shared their contact details.
Your information will be kept confidential and stored securely and password protected. Your contact details (name, email, telephone number) will be kept separately from all other data. Your responses on the website and the App will be only linked to a project identification number, not with your contact details, to keep your personal responses private.
In order to be given your version of the app and be notified of when to complete the different surveys, you will need to provide us with an email address which you will have regular access to for the duration of your participation in the study.
Who will have access to my data?
Only selected researchers within the project team can access your contact details. This is so they can contact you about follow-ups or to respond to your questions or requests for help. This project is part of a wider EU Horizon2020 funded project called ECoWeB and involves a consortium of researchers across Europe (www.ecowebproject.eu).
After the study ends it may be that academic journals and other research teams will ask for the data from the study to be made public (so they can carry out further research or check our findings). The data they use will not include your name or any of your contact details.
How long will my data be held?
Research into Mood and Voice
In addition to what is described above, we hope to develop new ways to detect emotions from the voice to help young people get aid quickly when needed. Anyone in the study can take part in this voice research. The choice to take part is in the “Emotion Diary” in the App. In the Emotion Diary you are asked to describe any emotional events from that day. You can type this event into the App, or you can talk to the App to create a voice record.
If you record your voice, it will be automatically analysed on the App for sound qualities like pitch and tone. To ensure confidentiality, each recording will be broken up into tiny bits and then put together again in a random order on the app. This means that the tone of your voice can be heard but no-one can hear what you said. This is to protect your identity. The files will then be labelled with your study identity number, encrypted and sent to a secure server for further analysis by our specialist researchers. If you use the voice recording, you will be able to get feedback on how your voice might sound to others.
There is no passive monitoring on the App so you would have to actively choose to record by clicking the record button.
Do I have to have my voice recorded?
No, this feature is completely optional and voluntary. You will only be given the choice to record your voice when describing an emotional event.
What are the possible benefits of taking part?
By taking part, you will play a major role in understanding emotion and improving well-being and mental health for young people. Taking part may help you to find better ways to manage worry and overthinking. It will also help us to improve well-being and mental health for other young people.
What are the possible disadvantages and risks of taking part?
Taking part involves giving of your time to complete the questionnaires and use the App. Because some of the questions in the questionnaires and the App ask about past and present emotions, there is a small chance that this may produce mild and brief upset if you are reminded of an unpleasant event. However, this would be no more than usually experienced in daily life. We are not aware of any other side effects, disadvantages, or risks of using the App.
What if I want to withdraw from the study or delete my data?
You can withdraw from using the App or taking part in the trial at any time without giving us a reason. If you are willing to let us still use your data then that is really useful. You can request to have your data deleted at any time before the 1st September 2022, when we will delete all contact details.
Is there any payment for taking part?
There are several incentives to encourage people to take part but not every individual will receive payment. If you have opted to participate in this study via the University of Exeter Psychology Research Participation System, then you will be rewarded with course credits as per university procedures. All other participants who successfully complete an additional survey after 6 weeks of using the app will be entered into a prize draw to win £250 of amazon vouchers. A second prize draw to win £150 will be offered to all those who also provide feedback after 12 weeks of using the App. The draw for both prizes will be held on 1st February 2022 once the data collection for the study has been completed. Only the winners will be contacted to inform them of the outcome on this date.
What help is provided?
This study only offers self-monitoring and self-help. It does not provide therapy. The App is not directly monitored and it is not supported by clinicians or therapists. If you report increased distress or thoughts of harming yourself when completing a questionnaire, we will give you automated advice and point you to sources of help. You can also contact us for further advice at any time using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org and we will (wherever possible) respond within 2 working days. Your GP (family doctor) remains responsible for your medical care. It is your responsibility to contact them for further help if you think you need it.
What will happen to the results?
We will analyse the information received from all those taking part together at the end of the study. We aim to publish the work in academic journals. Your identity will not be revealed in any report or publication. We will publish a summary of the findings the MyMoodCoach website. We will also send this report to any participants who request it.
Who has reviewed this study?
This project has been reviewed and granted a favourable outcome by the Research Ethics Committee at the University of Exeter (Reference Number eCLESPsy001977).
Further information and contact details
If you require any further information about this study, please use one or both of the email addresses provided below:
Dan Edge (Trainee Psychologist at Exeter University)
Professor Ed Watkins (Professor of Experimental and Applied Clinical Psychology at Exeter University)