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Ashlee Snow

Biology 1615-1616

Final Paper Summary

The scientific article I have chosen to discuss for my final paper is How People with

Serious Mental Illness use Smartphones, Mobile Apps, and Social Media. This particular

article was written by John A. Naslund, Kelly A. Aschbrenner, and Stephen J. Bartels in

2016. This article was written based on observations and studies done at Dartmouth

College, New Hampshire. Research has shown an increase in use of mobile devices and

mental illness, but it has been unknown what these individuals are doing with the

technology. The purpose of this study was to investigate how people with mental

illnesses and receive help from mental health centers use technology such as social

media, instant messaging, mobile apps, etc.

These authors surveyed people with serious mental illness to uncover their use of

technology. The criteria were that participants must be 21 years of age or older,

diagnosed with one or more of the following mental health disorders: major depressive

disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder. Individuals were

excluded for the following: lived in nursing homes or institutionalized, suffered from

substance use at the time, or were unable to speak English. The authors pooled

participants from three New Hampshire mental health centers and asked them to

complete lifestyle interventions and take a mobile health technology survey.

It was determined that 41% of participants suffered from a major depressive order, 33%

had bipolar disorder, and 26% had some form of a schizophrenic disorder. The mean age

of participants was 47.1 years of age, with 60% of them being female. 93% of the people

involved in taking the survey claimed they owned cellphones, 78% use instant messaging

and 71% used social media. 30% of the individuals with internet access used an app

designed to help with health or wellness. 24% of those with internet access admitted to

posting and/or searching for health information. This survey has demonstrated that

individuals with mental illnesses use technology comparably to the general population.

About 18% more of the general population own smartphones, which has been determined

to be because 80% of the participants were unemployed. This experiment has similar

findings to previous surveys and studies in the same field. All of which have shown that

there are increases of mobile device ownership and technology use in those with a mental


This study was conducted with a very small sample size, so the numbers could be skewed

in any direction. This study also lacked racial and ethnic diversity, and was as constrained

to New Hampshire only. Lastly, the study required participates to be enrolled in lifestyle

interventions, which may suggest they were interested in their health prior to the study.

Even though there a few limitations, this research did provide new information that has

proven useful in the extremely large study of mental health and technology.