Assessing your mood online: acceptability and use of Moodscope

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Abstract

Background

Moodscope is an entirely service-user-developed online mood-tracking and feedback tool with built-in social support, designed to stabilize and improve mood. Many free internet tools are available with no assessment of acceptability, validity or usefulness. This study provides an exemplar for future assessments.

Method

A mixed-methods approach was used. Participants with mild to moderate low mood used the tool for 3 months. Correlations between weekly assessments using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Assessment (GAD-7) with daily Moodscope scores were examined to provide validity data. After 3 months, focus groups and questionnaires assessed use and usability of the tool.

Results

Moodscope scores were correlated significantly with scores on the PHQ-9 and the GAD-7 for all weeks, suggesting a valid measure of mood. Low rates of use, particularly toward the end of the trial, demonstrate potential problems relating to ongoing motivation. Questionnaire data indicated that the tool was easy to learn and use, but there were concerns about the mood adjectives, site layout and the buddy system. Participants in the focus groups found the tool acceptable overall, but felt clarification of the role and target group was required.

Conclusions

With appropriate adjustments, Moodscope could be a useful tool for clinicians as a way of initially identifying patterns and influences on mood in individuals experiencing low mood. For those who benefit from ongoing mood tracking and the social support provided by the buddy system, Moodscope could be an ongoing adjunct to therapy.

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