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University Faculty Design Mood-Tracking Mobile App

MoodTrek app

MoodTrek smartphone app (University of Missouri Health System)

11 August 2015. Faculty at University of Missouri in psychiatry and computer science built a smartphone app that allows people with depression to track their moods and share the data with their psychiatrists. The app, known as MoodTrek, is available free of charge on Android phones. An iPhone version is planned for the future.

The University of Missouri team, in Columbia, headed by psychiatry professor Ganesh Gopalakrishna, aim to find a way for people with depression to track their moods more frequently and accurately, combined with sleep patterns and activity levels, and report that information to their therapists. According to National Institute of Mental Health, some 16 million people in the U.S., about 7 percent of the adult population, suffer from a major depressive episode at least once a year. And while only a small percentage of people with depression receive treatment for the disorder, visits to therapists happen infrequently, often about every two to three months.

As a result Gopalakrishna and colleagues created a smartphone app, with Missouri computer science professor Sriram Chellappan and Tiger Institute Health Alliance, a partnership between the university and Cerner Corporation, a developer of health information technology solutions including electronic health records. “People tend to forget what their moods were like just a few days ago,” says Gopalakrishna in a university statement, “but through this app, I can now see that data and can use it to provide the best care possible.”

With MoodTrek, individuals can track their moods on a scale of 1 to 5, with smiley-face icons representing their feelings at any time. Data from MoodTrek are integrated with records of sleep and exercise from Fitbit activity monitors, which are shared with the individual’s therapist. If the person’s health care provider uses a Cerner system, data can be captured in those electronic health records as well.

In addition to structured and statistical data, MoodTrek can also capture free-form notes that clients can share with their therapists. The app also can connect directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Individuals can access their data and download reports for their own use or their clinicians.

Kody Ihnat, a student at Missouri and a MoodTrek user since January 2015, reports an improvement in her mental well-being since using the app. “It forces you to take time for self-analysis and really reflect to find out why you’re feeling the way you do,” notes Ihnat in a university statement. “My family is very much comforted,” she adds, “by the fact that I have something in my pocket that is looking out for me and allows me to be in touch with my doctor.”

Ihnat and Gopalakrishna tell more about MoodTrek in the following video.

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