BACKGROUND: Patient retrospective recollection is a mainstay of assessing symptoms in mental health and psychiatry. However, evidence suggests that these retrospective recollections may not be as accurate as data collection though the experience sampling method (ESM), which captures patient data in "real time" and "real life." However, the difficulties in practical implementation of ESM data collection have limited its impact in psychiatry and mental health. Smartphones with the capability to run mobile applications may offer a novel method of collecting ESM data that may represent a practical and feasible tool for mental health and psychiatry.
OBJECTIVE: This paper aims to provide data on psychiatric patients' prevalence of smartphone ownership, patterns of use, and interest in utilizing mobile applications to monitor their mental health conditions.
METHODS: One hundred psychiatric outpatients at a large urban teaching hospital completed a paper-and-pencil survey regarding smartphone ownership, use, and interest in utilizing mobile applications to monitor their mental health condition.
RESULTS: Ninety-seven percent of patients reported owning a phone and 72% reported that their phone was a smartphone. Patients in all age groups indicated greater than 50% interest in using a mobile application on a daily basis to monitor their mental health condition.
CONCLUSIONS: Smartphone and mobile applications represent a practical opportunity to explore new modalities of monitoring, treatment, and research of psychiatric and mental health conditions.