Use and perceptions of mobile apps for patients among VA primary care mental and behavioral health providers.

Mobile apps for mental health concerns are a convenient, potentially effective way for primary care patients to access resources and self-management tools. Providers’ perceptions of such apps are critical to their adoption and integration into practice. This study evaluated use and perceptions of apps among Veterans Affairs Primary Care Mental Health Integration (PCMHI) providers, and identified the challenges with implementation. PCMHI providers were surveyed about their use, perceptions of, and barriers to using apps in their practice with patients. Results indicated that perceptions of apps were favorable. Eighty percent of providers reported recommending or using apps with their patients. Providers viewed apps as providing accessibility to tools and improving patient engagement. Qualitative reasons for nonuse were being unfamiliar with apps and how they could be used in treatment, patients not owning smartphones, and not having time to discuss apps in care. Those who reported using apps had more favorable perceptions of them, reported more comfort using them, and were more likely to use apps for their own health than nonusers (p< .01 to p < .001). Overall, PCMHI providers are using apps across different age cohorts for diverse mental and behavioral health issues and have favorable perceptions of them. Additional implementation efforts may be needed, particularly for app nonusers to become familiar with available apps and how to efficiently use them with patients. Using peer support specialists may be one practical strategy for overcoming identified implementation challenges. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)