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Open Access Policy Deposits

This series is automatically populated with publications deposited by UC Irvine Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences Department of Informatics researchers in accordance with the University of California’s open access policies. For more information see Open Access Policy Deposits and the UC Publication Management System.

Cover page of Curating the Digital Mental Health Landscape With a Guide to Behavioral Health Apps: A County-Driven Resource.

Curating the Digital Mental Health Landscape With a Guide to Behavioral Health Apps: A County-Driven Resource.

(2021)

With more than 10,000 mental health apps available, consumers and clinicians who want to adopt such tools can be overwhelmed by the multitude of options and lack of clear evaluative standards. Despite the increasing prevalence of curated lists, or app guides, challenges remain. Organizations providing mental health services to consumers have an opportunity to address these challenges by producing guides that meet relevant standards of quality and are tailored to local needs. This column summarizes an example of the collaborative process of app guide development in a publicly funded mental health service context and highlights opportunities and barriers identified through the process.

Cover page of Understanding People's Use of and Perspectives on Mood-Tracking Apps: Interview Study.

Understanding People's Use of and Perspectives on Mood-Tracking Apps: Interview Study.

(2021)

Background

Supporting mental health and wellness is of increasing interest due to a growing recognition of the prevalence and burden of mental health issues. Mood is a central aspect of mental health, and several technologies, especially mobile apps, have helped people track and understand it. However, despite formative work on and dissemination of mood-tracking apps, it is not well understood how mood-tracking apps used in real-world contexts might benefit people and what people hope to gain from them.

Objective

To address this gap, the purpose of this study was to understand motivations for and experiences in using mood-tracking apps from people who used them in real-world contexts.

Methods

We interviewed 22 participants who had used mood-tracking apps using a semistructured interview and card sorting task. The interview focused on their experiences using a mood-tracking app. We then conducted a card sorting task using screenshots of various data entry and data review features from mood-tracking apps. We used thematic analysis to identify themes around why people use mood-tracking apps, what they found useful about them, and where people felt these apps fell short.

Results

Users of mood-tracking apps were primarily motivated by negative life events or shifts in their own mental health that prompted them to engage in tracking and improve their situation. In general, participants felt that using a mood-tracking app facilitated self-awareness and helped them to look back on a previous emotion or mood experience to understand what was happening. Interestingly, some users reported less inclination to document their negative mood states and preferred to document their positive moods. There was a range of preferences for personalization and simplicity of tracking. Overall, users also liked features in which their previous tracked emotions and moods were visualized in figures or calendar form to understand trends. One gap in available mood-tracking apps was the lack of app-facilitated recommendations or suggestions for how to interpret their own data or improve their mood.

Conclusions

Although people find various features of mood-tracking apps helpful, the way people use mood-tracking apps, such as avoiding entering negative moods, tracking infrequently, or wanting support to understand or change their moods, demonstrate opportunities for improvement. Understanding why and how people are using current technologies can provide insights to guide future designs and implementations.

Cover page of Privacy-protecting, reliable response data discovery using COVID-19 patient observations.

Privacy-protecting, reliable response data discovery using COVID-19 patient observations.

(2021)

Objective

To utilize, in an individual and institutional privacy-preserving manner, electronic health record (EHR) data from 202 hospitals by analyzing answers to COVID-19-related questions and posting these answers online.

Materials and methods

We developed a distributed, federated network of 12 health systems that harmonized their EHRs and submitted aggregate answers to consortia questions posted at https://www.covid19questions.org. Our consortium developed processes and implemented distributed algorithms to produce answers to a variety of questions. We were able to generate counts, descriptive statistics, and build a multivariate, iterative regression model without centralizing individual-level data.

Results

Our public website contains answers to various clinical questions, a web form for users to ask questions in natural language, and a list of items that are currently pending responses. The results show, for example, that patients who were taking angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers, within the year before admission, had lower unadjusted in-hospital mortality rates. We also showed that, when adjusted for, age, sex, and ethnicity were not significantly associated with mortality. We demonstrated that it is possible to answer questions about COVID-19 using EHR data from systems that have different policies and must follow various regulations, without moving data out of their health systems.

Discussion and conclusions

We present an alternative or a complement to centralized COVID-19 registries of EHR data. We can use multivariate distributed logistic regression on observations recorded in the process of care to generate results without transferring individual-level data outside the health systems.

Cover page of Why do people oppose mask wearing? A comprehensive analysis of U.S. tweets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why do people oppose mask wearing? A comprehensive analysis of U.S. tweets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(2021)

Objective

Facial masks are an essential personal protective measure to fight the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic. However, the mask adoption rate in the United States is still less than optimal. This study aims to understand the beliefs held by individuals who oppose the use of facial masks, and the evidence that they use to support these beliefs, to inform the development of targeted public health communication strategies.

Materials and methods

We analyzed a total of 771 268 U.S.-based tweets between January to October 2020. We developed machine learning classifiers to identify and categorize relevant tweets, followed by a qualitative content analysis of a subset of the tweets to understand the rationale of those opposed mask wearing.

Results

We identified 267 152 tweets that contained personal opinions about wearing facial masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While the majority of the tweets supported mask wearing, the proportion of anti-mask tweets stayed constant at about a 10% level throughout the study period. Common reasons for opposition included physical discomfort and negative effects, lack of effectiveness, and being unnecessary or inappropriate for certain people or under certain circumstances. The opposing tweets were significantly less likely to cite external sources of information such as public health agencies' websites to support the arguments.

Conclusions

Combining machine learning and qualitative content analysis is an effective strategy for identifying public attitudes toward mask wearing and the reasons for opposition. The results may inform better communication strategies to improve the public perception of wearing masks and, in particular, to specifically address common anti-mask beliefs.