Evaluation of mood check-in feature for participation in meditation mobile app users: Retrospective longitudinal analysis

Jennifer Huberty, Jeni Green, Megan Puzia, Chad Stecher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Mindfulness meditation smartphone apps may improve mental health but lack evidence-based behavioral strategies to encourage their regular use for attaining mental health benefits. In October 2019, the Calm mindfulness meditation app introduced a mood check-in feature, but its effects on participation in meditation have yet to be tested. Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate how a mood check-in feature impacts meditation behavior in Calm app subscribers. Methods: This was a retrospective longitudinal analysis of mobile app usage data from a random sample of first-time subscribers to the Calm app (n=2600) who joined in summer 2018 or summer 2019. The mood check-in feature allows users to rate their mood using an emoji after completing a meditation session and displays a monthly calendar of their past mood check-ins. Regression analyses were used to compare the rate of change in meditation behavior before and after the introduction of mood check-ins and to estimate how usage of mood check-ins was associated with individuals' future meditation behavior (ie, intent-to-treat effects). Additional regression models examined the heterogenous effect of mood check-ins between subscribers who were active or inactive users prior to the introduction to mood check-ins (ie, above or below the median number of weeks with any meditation within their cohort). In order to confirm the specific associations between mood check-ins and meditation engagement, we modeled the direct relationship between the use of mood check-ins in previous weeks and subsequent meditation behavior (ie, treatment on the treated effects). Results: During the first 9 months of their subscription, the 2019 cohort completed an average of 0.482 more sessions per week (95% CI 0.309 to 0.655) than the 2018 cohort; however, across both cohorts, average weekly meditation declined (-0.033 sessions per week, 95% CI -0.035 to -0.031). Controlled for trends in meditation before mood check-ins and aggregate differences between the 2018 and 2019 samples, the time trend in the number of weekly meditation sessions increased by 0.045 sessions among the 2019 cohort after the introduction of mood check-ins (95% CI 0.039 to 0.052). This increase in meditation was most pronounced among the inactive subscribers (0.063 sessions, 95% CI 0.052 to 0.074). When controlled for past-week meditation, use of mood check-ins during the previous week was positively associated with the likelihood of meditating the following week (odds ratio 1.132, 95% CI 1.059 to 1.211); however, these associations were not sustained beyond 1 week. Conclusions: Using mood check-ins increases meditation participation in Calm app subscribers and may be especially beneficial for inactive subscribers. Mobile apps should consider incorporating mood check-ins to help better engage a wider range of users in app-based meditation, but more research is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere27106
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

Keywords

  • Adherence
  • App
  • Behavior
  • Engagement
  • Meditation
  • Mental health
  • MHealth
  • Mindfulness
  • Mood
  • Smartphone application

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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