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In JMIR mental health

BACKGROUND : New technologies are changing access to medical records and the relationship between physicians and patients. Professionals can now use e-mental health tools to provide prompt and personalized responses to patients with mental illness. However, there is a lack of knowledge about the digital phenotypes of patients who use e-mental health apps.

OBJECTIVE : This study aimed to reveal the profiles of users of a mental health app through machine learning techniques.

METHODS : We applied a nonparametric model, the Sparse Poisson Factorization Model, to discover latent features in the response patterns of 2254 psychiatric outpatients to a short self-assessment on general health. The assessment was completed through a mental health app after the first login.

RESULTS : The results showed the following four different profiles of patients: (1) all patients had feelings of worthlessness, aggressiveness, and suicidal ideas; (2) one in four reported low energy and difficulties to cope with problems; (3) less than a quarter described depressive symptoms with extremely high scores in suicidal thoughts and aggressiveness; and (4) a small number, possibly with the most severe conditions, reported a combination of all these features.

CONCLUSIONS : User profiles did not overlap with clinician-made diagnoses. Since each profile seems to be associated with a different level of severity, the profiles could be useful for the prediction of behavioral risks among users of e-mental health apps.

Lopez-Castroman Jorge, Abad-Tortosa Diana, Cobo Aguilera Aurora, Courtet Philippe, Barrigón Maria Luisa, Artés Antonio, Baca-García Enrique


data mining, digital phenotyping, mental disorders, suicidal ideation, suicide prevention