Feasibility and Efficacy of an mHealth Game for Managing Anxiety: “Flowy” Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial and Design Evaluation.

Quynh Pham, Yasmin Khatib, stephen stansfeld, Simon Fox, Tobias Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Meeting the complex needs of patients with chronic common mental health disorders (CMHDs) may be the greatest challenge facing organized medical practice. On the basis of a well-established and proven theoretical foundation for controlled respiration as a behavioral intervention for CMHDs, as well as preliminary evidence that gamification can improve health outcomes through increasing patient engagement, this randomized controlled pilot study evaluated the feasibility and clinical efficacy of a mobile health game called “Flowy” (www.flowygame.com) that digitally delivered breathing retraining exercises for anxiety, panic, and hyperventilation symptom management.Materials and Methods: We designed an unblinded, Web-based, parallel-group randomized controlled trial focusing on feasibility, clinical efficacy, and design proof of concept. In the intervention condition (n = 31), participants received free access to “Flowy” for 4 weeks. In the control condition (n = 32), participants were placed on a waitlist for 4 weeks before being offered free access to “Flowy.” Online measurements using psychological self-report questionnaires were made at 2 and 4 weeks post-baseline.Results: At trial conclusion, participants found “Flowy” acceptable as an anxiety management intervention. “Flowy” engaged participants sufficiently to endorse proactive gameplay. Intent-to-treat analysis revealed a reduction in anxiety, panic, and self-report hyperventilation scores in both trial arms, with the intervention arm experiencing greater quality of life. Participants perceived “Flowy” as a fun and useful intervention, proactively used “Flowy” as part of their care, and would recommend “Flowy” to family and friends.Conclusions: Our results suggest that a digital delivery of breathing retraining exercises through a mobile health game can manage anxiety, panic, and hyperventilation symptoms associated with CMHDs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-67
JournalGames for Health Journal
Issue number1
Early online date4 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


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