Kirsten Lomborg

Patient Experiences Using a Self-Monitoring App in Eating Disorder Treatment: Qualitative Study

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DOI

BACKGROUND: The Recovery Record smartphone app is a self-monitoring tool for individuals recovering from an eating disorder. Unlike traditional pen-and-paper meal diaries, which are often used in eating disorder treatment, the app holds novel features, such as meal reminders, affirmations, and patient-clinician in-app linkage, the latter allowing for clinicians to continuously monitor patients' app data.

OBJECTIVE: To explore patients' experiences with using Recovery Record as part of outpatient eating disorder treatment.

METHODS: A total of 41 patients from a Danish eating disorder treatment facility were included in the study. All 41 patients participated in participant observations of individual or group treatment sessions, and 26 were interviewed about their experiences with using the app in treatment. The data material was generated and analyzed concurrently, applying the inductive methodology of Interpretive Description.

RESULTS: The patients' experiences with Recovery Record depended on its app features, the impact of these features on patients, and their specific app usage. This patient-app interaction affected and was affected by changeable contexts making patients' experiences dynamic. The patient-app interaction affected patients' placement of specific Recovery Record app features along a continuum from supportive to obstructive of individual everyday life activities including the eating disorder treatment. As an example, some patients found it supportive being notified by their clinician when their logs had been monitored as it gave them a sense of relatedness. Contrarily, other patients felt under surveillance, which was obstructive, as it made them feel uneasy or even dismissing the app.

CONCLUSIONS: Some patients experienced the app and its features as mostly supportive of their everyday life and the eating disorder treatment, while others experienced it primarily as obstructive. When applying apps in eating disorder treatment, we therefore recommend that patients and clinicians collaborate to determine how the app in question best fits the capacities, preferences, and treatment needs of the individual patient. Thus, we encourage patients and clinicians to discuss how specific features of the applied app affect the individual patient to increase the use of supportive features, while limiting the use of obstructive ones.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10253
JournalJ M I R mHealth and uHealth
Volume6
Issue6
Number of pages16
ISSN2291-5222
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2018

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