Psycho-Educational mobile apps for social anxiety: What mental health professionals think

Trent Hammond, Vlasios Brakoulias, Lisa Lampe, Andrew Campbell

Background: Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 11% of Australians, half of whom may not receive treatment for 15-years or more. Lack of access to timely support and treatment leads to more pervasive and severe social anxiety, making it difficult for people to function. High-quality and evidence-based apps have the potential to empower people, encourage earlier diagnosis and treatment, and to facilitate personal symptom management. Internationally, there is no published research, which reports the needs and wants of social anxiety app end-users. Further, commercial social anxiety apps in the Australian app stores are not evidence-based and have not been evaluated for clinical effectiveness.

Aim: To explore the needs and wants of Australian Primary Health Professionals and their clients to inform the development of a new psycho-educational social anxiety app.

Methods: Four groups of Australian Primary Health Professionals (N ≈32; n ≈8) were recruited by email survey to participate in structured ‘Zoom’ focus groups in November 2020. They included General Practitioners, Counselling Psychologists, Social Workers, and Counsellors. All focus group participants had worked with clients with social anxiety and had experience in using mobile apps. A Discussion Guide and PowerPoint Presentation guided discussions and ensured consistent questioning between groups. Audio recordings were transcribed and then themes were coded and analysed indicatively using NVivo.

Results and conclusions: Data were not analysed by the time of submitting this abstract. If accepted to present at the conference, results and conclusions will be provided for Digital Health Week by the end of January 2021.