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Smartphone App Can Assess Early Signs of Schizophrenia

Key clinical point: Schizophrenia patients found that using a smartphone app once a week to identify and report early signs of relapse was feasible. In addition, the results they had were comparable to those achieved using in-person assessments.

Major finding: The number of app-reported and researcher reported basic symptoms showed excellent agreement after 6 months of app use (intra-class correlation  0.76; P less than  0.001), suggesting that the app is feasible, acceptable, and valid.

Study details: The findings come from 18 adults with schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis who had experienced relapse in the past year.

Disclosures: Co-author Sandra Bucci, DClinPsy, directs a nonprofit organization that promotes the ClinTouch app. The study was supported in part by the Medical Research Council.

Citation:

Eisner E et al. Schizophr Res. 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2019.04.003.

Commentary:

Smartphones are increasingly being used in clinical settings to collect health information and to communicate with patients. There are several available apps to monitor symptoms in patients with serious mental illness. This study demonstrated the feasibility and acceptability of using an app for the monitoring of early signs of relapse. Strengths of the report include a relatively long duration of observation (6 months) and a multi-stage/incremental approach informed by user input. While findings need to be interpreted cautiously, and apps are by no means a good fit for all patients, this study represents a practical and relatively low-burden opportunity for timely intervention of patients who may be in the earliest stages of psychotic relapse.—Martha Sajatovic, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and of Neurology; Willard Brown Chair in Neurological Outcomes Research; Director, Neurological and Behavioral Outcomes Center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center; Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.