Mobile phones as medical devices in mental disorder treatment: an overview

Franz Gravenhorst, Amir Muaremi, Jakob Bardram, Agnes GrÃŒnerbl, Oscar Mayora, Gabriel Wurzer, Mads Frost, Venet Osmani, Bert Arnrich, Paul Lukowicz, Gerhard Tröster

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Mental disorders can have a significant, negative impact on sufferers’ lives, as well as on their friends and family, healthcare systems and other parts of society. Approximately 25 % of all people in Europe and the USA experience a mental disorder at least once in their lifetime. Currently, monitoring mental disorders relies on subjective clinical self-reporting rating scales, which were developed more than 50 years ago. In this paper, we discuss how mobile phones can support the treatment of mental disorders by (1) implementing human–computer interfaces to support therapy and (2) collecting relevant data from patients’ daily lives to monitor the current state and development of their mental disorders. Concerning the first point, we review various systems that utilize mobile phones for the treatment of mental disorders. We also evaluate how their core design features and dimensions can be applied in other, similar systems. Concerning the second point, we highlight the feasibility of using mobile phones to collect comprehensive data including voice data, motion and location information. Data mining methods are also reviewed and discussed. Based on the presented studies, we summarize advantages and drawbacks of the most promising mobile phone technologies for detecting mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder. Finally, we discuss practical implementation details, legal issues and business models for the introduction of mobile phones as medical devices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonal and Ubiquitous Computing
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)335-353
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Mobile phone
  • Medical device
  • Mental disorder


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