Research Paper Title
E-mental health applications for depression: an evidence-based ethical analysis.
E-mental health applications (apps) are an increasingly important factor for the treatment of depression.
To assess the risks and benefits for patients, an in-depth ethical analysis is necessary.
The objective of this paper is to determine the ethical implications of app-based treatment for depression.
An evidence-based ethical analysis was conducted.
The material was meta-reviews and randomised control studies (RCTs) on app-based treatment.
Based on the empirical data, an ethical analysis was conducted using the 3-ACES-approach by Thornicroft and Tansella.
Apps may empower autonomy, offer an uninterrupted series of contacts over a period of time, show evidence-based benefits for patients with subclinical and mild-to-moderate-symptoms, are easily accessible, may be used for coordinating information and services within an episode of care, and are on the whole cost-effective.
The use of apps in depression treatment can be beneficial for patients as long as:
- The usefulness of an app-based treatment is assessed for each individual patient;
- Apps are chosen according to symptom severity as well as characteristics like the patient’s level of self-reliance, their e-literacy, and their openness vis-à-vis apps; and
- Manufacturers improve their privacy policies and the quality of apps.
Rubeis, G. (2020) E-mental health applications for depression: an evidence-based ethical analysis. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. doi: 10.1007/s00406-019-01093-y. [Epub ahead of print].