Why patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder start, continue or discontinue health-related apps supporting their self-management

Bart Geerling*, Saskia M. Kelders, Anja W.M.M. Stevens, Ralph W. Kupka, Ernst T. Bohlmeijer

*Corresponding author for this work

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What is Known about the Subject?: Self-management is essential in the treatment of those who have bipolar disorder. There are many apps to support self-management, but we know that these apps only sometimes cover the users' needs. What is Added to Existing Knowledge?: In our research, we made an inventory of apps that people with bipolar disorder use to cover their needs in self-management. We also have searched for the reasons to start, continue, switch or quit the use of those apps. We found that 44% (n = 18) of our respondents use health-related apps for self-management purposes. Apps for physical activity, planning and structure and apps for relaxation were most used. In the use of apps, the “freedom of choice” and user-friendliness are the most important in continuing the use of apps, while malfunctioning and “not fitting in individual needs” the main reasons were for quitting the use of apps. Implications for Practice: Various apps can be used for self-management purposes as long as these apps meet the individual user's requirements. Clinicians and patients should have a broad view when looking for suitable apps and not limit the search to just professional apps. In developing new apps, patients, clinicians and developers should collaborate in the development process, requirements and design. Abstract: Introduction: Self-management is one of the cornerstones in the treatment of bipolar disorder (BD). Complementing interventions by apps are seen as a good opportunity to support self-management. However, there is insufficient knowledge about understanding the use of health-related applications by consumers with BD for self-management purposes. Aim: The study aims to gain insight from patients diagnosed with BD about reasons to use, continue or discontinue health-related apps. Method: This study employed a mixed-method design in which 41 participants diagnosed with BD participated in a quantitative survey, and 11 participants also participated in an in-depth interview. Results: The survey showed that 44% (n = 18) of the participants use health-related apps, and 26.8% (n = 11) use those apps consistently. Interviews revealed that adjustability, usability, trustworthiness and the guarantee of privacy were the main reasons determining whether participants used or terminated the use of a health-related app. Implications for Practice: Although we found that a substantial number of patients diagnosed with BD use one or more apps to support self-management, their use is often discontinued due to content that needs more robust to address their needs. Besides appropriate content, tailoring and persuasive technologies will likely promote the continued use of an app for self-management purposes. Cooperation between those diagnosed with bipolar disorder and health professionals (like mental health nurses) in developing and designing applications that are aimed to support self-management in BD is necessary for successful implementation and adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-546
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number3
Early online date4 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • bipolar disorder
  • E-health
  • self-management
  • UT-Hybrid-D

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