Implementation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in e–Mental Health Apps: Literature Review

Denecke, Kerstin; Schmid, Nicole; Nüssli, Stephan (2022). Implementation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in e–Mental Health Apps: Literature Review Journal of Medical Internet Research, 24(3), pp. 1-13. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, PubMed Central 10.2196/27791

J Med Internet Res.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (443kB) | Preview

Background: To address the matter of limited resources for treating individuals with mental disorders, e–mental health has gained interest in recent years. More specifically, mobile health (mHealth) apps have been suggested as electronic mental health interventions accompanied by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Objective: This study aims to identify the therapeutic aspects of CBT that have been implemented in existing mHealth apps and the technologies used. From these, we aim to derive research gaps that should be addressed in the future. Methods: Three databases were screened for studies on mHealth apps in the context of mental disorders that implement techniques of CBT: PubMed, IEEE Xplore, and ACM Digital Library. The studies were independently selected by 2 reviewers, who then extracted data from the included studies. Data on CBT techniques and their technical implementation in mHealth apps were synthesized narratively. Results: Of the 530 retrieved citations, 34 (6.4%) studies were included in this review. mHealth apps for CBT exploit two groups of technologies: technologies that implement CBT techniques for cognitive restructuring, behavioral activation, and problem solving (exposure is not yet realized in mHealth apps) and technologies that aim to increase user experience, adherence, and engagement. The synergy of these technologies enables patients to self-manage and self-monitor their mental state and access relevant information on their mental illness, which helps them cope with mental health problems and allows self-treatment. Conclusions: There are CBT techniques that can be implemented in mHealth apps. Additional research is needed on the efficacy of the mHealth interventions and their side effects, including inequalities because of the digital divide, addictive internet behavior, lack of trust in mHealth, anonymity issues, risks and biases for user groups and social contexts, and ethical implications. Further research is also required to integrate and test psychological theories to improve the impact of mHealth and adherence to the e–mental health interventions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Engineering and Computer Science > Institute for Patient-centered Digital Health
School of Engineering and Computer Science


Denecke, Kerstin0000-0001-6691-396X;
Schmid, Nicole and
Nüssli, Stephan


R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
T Technology > T Technology (General)




International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, PubMed Central




Kerstin Denecke

Date Deposited:

23 Mar 2022 10:53

Last Modified:

25 Oct 2023 13:49

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Cognitive behavioral therapy mHealth e–mental health Chatbot Mobile phone




Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Provide Feedback