Clinical Trials Logo

Clinical Trial Summary

The purpose of the study is to understand how incentives (either points alone or points that can be exchanged for gift certificates) encourage engagement with an online mental health app (Neuroflow) for University students. Overall, the hope of this study is to help us understand how best to support mental health and wellness in university students.


Clinical Trial Description

As mental health awareness and intervention has gained more traction throughout the years, applications - such as NeuroFlow - have emerged in an effort to facilitate aid to those who are unable to afford or access alternative mental health care methods (Huckvale et al, 2020). However, over 95% of mental health and wellness applications have not actually been studied (Lecomte et al., 2020). Additionally, a large portion examines user adoption of various mental health applications based on different factors, leaving a gap in research regarding client engagement and interest post-installation (Huang and Bashir, 2017). Thus, despite promises, applications for promoting mental health often do not achieve their intended goals due to lack of sufficient client engagement/interest. In order to address this discrepancy, the use of financial incentives and other incentives from the field of behavioral economics may help (Beidas et al., 2019). As an application, NeuroFlow embeds behavioral economic principles to increase motivation and engagement with the application (such as personalized pop-up notification reminders and app gamification including points accrual for activity completion and celebratory messages for meeting points thresholds) and also provides financial incentives whereby points accrued can be redeemed into gift cards for popular outlets such as Amazon. However, it is not clear if this financial incentive increases engagement or has knock-on effects for mental health and wellbeing over and above the behavioral economics incentives per se. In this study, we will conduct a pilot two-arm randomized controlled trial where we will examine the effect of a treatment group (NeuroFlow app with behavioral economics and financial incentives vs. NeuroFlow app with behavioral economics incentives only) on application engagement and mental health and wellbeing (anxiety and depression symptoms, sleep, self-regulation and wellbeing). The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of how incentives encourage participation and engagement with an online mental health platform, NeuroFlow. This study is a two-arm pilot randomized controlled trial to assess differences in user retention and usage rates associated with two incentive structures within the NeuroFlow app (I.e., general structure versus financial compensation). We will assess user engagement with utilization data (ie., daily, weekly, and monthly active users) and measures of the total number of activity counts completed by a user. After consenting to participate in the study, participants will be randomly assigned to use Neuroflow either with points only or with points and the opportunity to exchange those points for gift cards. In both conditions, participants will begin by completing a consent form and a brief questionnaire with their contact information, which will be used to grant them access to the Neuroflow platform. In both recruitment methods, participants will be required to sign up for a 15 minute check in and check out meeting before and after the trial to answer participant questions regarding the app/app set up or concerns about the consent form. Furthermore, a Qualtrics survey will also be dispersed to participants to be taken during this time along with an initial baseline assessment (to be administered in the NeuroFlow app). Baseline and post-app usage Qualtrics survey links will also be sent with measures (Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ), World Health Organization- Five Well-Being Index (WHO-5), and Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS)) to participants in order to assess differences in user retention. In both conditions, participants will use the Neuroflow app throughout the duration of the 4-week study (28 days). Participants will be sent a push notification each day through the app to complete their daily activities, which could include surveys, videos, or skill-based practice materials. With the collaboration of the Neuroflow team, the usage metrics of the app will be pulled after the end of the study. The user metrics of interest are identifying factors that include first name, last name, gender, age, date of birth, and the applicable assignments to each participant - care team manager and behavioral health specialist. Additionally, the first and last score, first and last date, and time between the first and last assessment dates for the measures of interest (PHQ-9, GAD-7, WHO-5, DERS). Furthermore, the total activity number and the total activity rate across all measures will be collected. No additional data from or about participant phone usage or activities will be pulled as part of the study other than the usage metrics specified above, specific to Neuroflow. ;


Study Design


NCT number NCT05121675
Study type Interventional
Source University of Pennsylvania
Contact Cheryl Chang
Phone 5169968699
Email [email protected]
Status Not yet recruiting
Phase N/A
Start date November 2021
Completion date June 2022