ECRA Mitglied Maham Saleem:

“The burden of mental health disorders is much higher than that estimated, and this can be certainly decreased by tailoring digital interventions for mental health promotion and treatment.”


Mental health promotion and wellbeing is a global public health challenge due to the high prevalence of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. Mental health disorders account for at least 32.4% of the global burden of disease and come with high costs to individuals as well as societies. Primary and secondary prevention in public health is intervening and preventing disease before the onset of disease and symptoms or at the early onset of disease, respectively. Research has shown mental health promotion and primary prevention interventions targeted at at-risk groups to be cost-effective and beneficial. Digital technologies for mental wellbeing have been proven to be effective and cost-effective in randomized controlled trials. Digital health interventions can be defined as “Interventions that provide information, support or therapy (emotional, decisional, behavioral and neurocognitive) for physical and/or mental health via a technological or digital platform (e.g., website, computer, mobile phone application (app), SMS, email, videoconferencing, wearable device)”. Digital interventions offer one solution to address the high demand for mental health promotion, especially when facing physical contact restrictions or lacking accessibility. Engagement with digital interventions is critical for their effectiveness, however, retaining user’s engagement throughout the intervention is challenging. It remains unclear what strategies facilitate the engagement with digital interventions targeting mental health promotion.

A scoping review was conducted to answer the following question: What are the strategies to facilitate user engagement with digital interventions for mental health promotion? The search was conducted in seven electronic databases from inception to April 2020, with no language or publication type restrictions, using three main search terms: digital intervention AND (mental health promotion OR engagement) in titles/abstracts. A total of 2766 studies were identified, and k = 16 studies met inclusion criteria. Data is coded as follows: study characteristics (citation, design, country of data collection), digital intervention (type, engagement strategy) and evaluation of engagement strategy (method and result specifying if the strategy was effective at facilitating engagement) and features of engagement (usability measures and subjective measures).

The result of the project explains in detail a set of strategies for digital interventions for mental health promotion to achieve effective users’ engagement with these technologies.


Maham Saleem
Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS GmbH
Prevention and Evaluation Department
Applied Intervention Research Section

Achterstraße 30
28359 Bremen
Tel +49 421 218 56 923

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