Feasibility and utility of mobile health interventions for depression and anxiety in rural populations: A scoping review

Michael J. McCarthy, Alexandra Wicker, Juliette Roddy, Mark Remiker, Indrakshi Roy, Megan McCoy, Eric S. Cerino, Julie Baldwin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Despite the potential of mobile health (mHealth) to address high rates of depression and anxiety in underserved rural communities, most mHealth interventions do not explicitly consider the realities of rural life. The aim of this scoping review is to identify and examine the available literature on mHealth interventions that consider the needs of rural populations in order to gauge their feasibility and utility for addressing depression and anxiety. Additionally, we provide an overview of rural users' perceptions about and preferences for mHealth-delivered mental health screening and intervention systems. Out of 169 articles identified, 16 met inclusion criteria. Studies were conducted across a wide range of countries, age groups, and rural subpopulations including individuals with bipolar disorder, anxiety, perinatal depression, PTSD, and chronic pain, as well as refugees, veterans, and transgender and LGBTQ+ individuals. All interventions were in the feasibility/acceptability testing stage for rural users. Identified strengths included their simplicity, accessibility, convenience, availability of support between sessions with providers, and remote access to a care team. Weaknesses included problems with charging phone batteries and exceeding data limits, privacy concerns, and general lack of comfort with app-based support. Based upon this review, we provide recommendations for future mHealth intervention development including the value of developer-user coproduction methods, the need to consider user variation in access to and comfort with smartphones, and potential data or connectivity limitations, mental health stigma, and confidentiality concerns in rural communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100724
JournalInternet Interventions
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mobile health
  • Rural
  • Scoping review
  • mHealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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