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The Depression Test is an application designed to help users evaluate and track depressive symptoms over time. The home screen has three tabs: Test, Results, Info. The Test tab prompts you to launch the PHQ-9, a validated tool to detect the presence of depressive symptoms over the past two weeks. Once the questionnaire has been administered, it will score responses and explain the user’s score, which can be saved for monitoring purposes. Under results, the user can view all previously saved scores on a graph, depicting patterns and change over time. The Info tab provides the user with educational information about depression symptoms, causes, treatments and self-help guide. Other features include setting a weekly reminder to complete the survey.

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Overall Score: 2.15/5.00

Research base 0/3
Research support 1/2
Specificity of proposed intervention 1/3
Number of consumer ratings 3/3
Product advisory support 0/1
Software support 1/2

Total 6/14

date of rating:  July 2017

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Available for: Android 2.3 or later
Developer: Japps Medical
Type of Treatment: Symptom Tracking/Self-Monitoring
Targeted Conditions: Mood disorders
Target Audience: Adults
Designed to be used in conjunction with a healthcare professional: No
Languages Available: English
Cost: Free
Get it on: Google Play

Research on this App

The PHQ-9 is the most widely used measure to assess depression used routinely in care setting as a screening instrument. In a large screening study of primary care patients, the PHQ-9 had a sensitivity and specificity of 74% and 91% respectively using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview as a comparator (Arroll et al. 2010). A meta-analysis reviewing 36 studies found that a 10-point cut-off to identify depression resulted in a sensitivity of 78% (Moriarty et al. 2015). Additionally, the PHQ-9’s internal reliability Cronbach’s alpha score was 0.89 (Kroenke et al. 2001). Although this specific app has not been evaluated in research, PHQ-9 administered via a mobile app has. A mobile app administered PHQ-9 showed a high correlation (r = .84) with a traditionally administered PHQ-9. App-collected scores were slightly higher and users were more likely to report suicidal ideation using the app than the traditionally administered measure (Torous et al., 2015). Mobile apps appear to be valid ways to provide mental health assessments but people’s reporting to them might differ than traditional methods.

  • Arroll, B., Goodyear-Smith, F., Crengle, S., Gunn, J., Kerse, N., Fishman, T., & … Hatcher, S. (2010). Validation of PHQ-2 and PHQ-9 to screen for major depression in the primary care population. Annals Of Family Medicine, 8(4), 348-353. doi:10.1370/afm.1139
  • Moriarty, A. S., Gilbody, S., McMillan, D., & Manea, L. (2015). Screening and case finding for major depressive disorder using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9): A meta-analysis. General Hospital Psychiatry, 37(6), 567-576. doi:10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2015.06.012
  • Kroenke, K., Spitzer, R. L., & Williams, J. B. W. (2001). The PHQ-9: Validity of a Brief Depression Severity Measure. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 16(9), 606–613. http://doi.org/10.1046/j.1525-1497.2001.016009606.x
  • Torous, J., Staples, P., Shanahan, M., Lin, C., Peck, P., Keshavan, M., & Onnela, J. P. (2015). Utilizing a personal smartphone custom app to assess the patient health questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) depressive symptoms in patients with major depressive disorder. JMIR mental health2(1).doi:10.2196/mental.3889