Leveraging Mobile Health Technology to Support Mental Healthcare

A qualitative study concerning the design of personal health technology and the practice of mental healthcare in primary care.

Increasingly, patients and health professionals are tasked with caring for health conditions chronic, complex and co-morbid in nature — combining both mental and physical illnesses requiring the coordination of care across services and specialities, and practices of medical decision-making not only in support of diagnosis and acute intervention but the provision and organisation of long-term care. This category of serious and complex medical conditions (SCMCs) encompasses what the medical literature terms severe mental illnesses (SMIs) including major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia — a growing public health priority in Denmark.

The World Health Organisation has identified primary care in particular as a critical setting for mental healthcare and intervention; given general practitioners' (GPs') roles as the first point of contact for many, and expertise in the care of co-morbid physical and mental health conditions. Despite a long-standing focus on person-centred care however, GPs in Denmark as elsewhere speak often of struggling to reach and engage a patient group whom themselves speak often of feeling unseen and unheard during consultations. This has led many public health researchers to call for new tools, means and methods of providing care for patients with SMI and other complex health conditions.

And the SOFIA Project - a national, interdisciplinary collaboration between public health, medical, social science and computer science researchers at the Technical University of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen, among others - was devised in direct response to these challenges. This current mixed-methods study has as its aim understanding how mobile digital technologies might be best designed to support the practice of mental healthcare through primary care — by obtaining direct insight into GPs’ and patients’ experiences of a bespoke mobile and web health technology platform developed for this very purpose.

What does participation involve?

Participating GPs, fully remunerated for their time, are asked to recruit four patients with experience of depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Each GP will then conduct two 30-minute consultations with each patient, at the very start and end of a 2 to 4 week period of patient engagement with a mobile app designed to support effective care. The purpose of these consultations will be to engage patients in a conversation centered around what matters most to both patient and GP, in support of a revised care plan.

GPs will be interviewed upon conclusion of the study, and finally complete a questionnaire containing a small number of questions regarding demographic characteristics, such as age and gender. You can find more information about the study design and what participation entails in the Participant Information Leaflet provided.

Who can participate?

We seek to engage GPs operating in Denmark treating patients with experience of depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia over the age of 18. If you meet these criteria, and are interested in participating in this project, please contact the lead researcher Kevin Doherty at


Providing informed consent

Participation is fully remunerated, and voluntary. As a participant, you are free to withdraw your consent at any time, without the need to provide a reason, by contacting the lead researcher Kevin Doherty at Doing so will have no adverse effect on your legal rights and will not affect the lawfulness of the data processing based on consent before its withdrawal. For more information about this study, including practices of consent and data processing, you can view the relevant Participant Information Leaflet under the ‘Documentation’ heading on the right-hand side of this page.

Who will have access to your information?

This study has been approved by the Capital Region Scientific Ethics Committee, Copenhagen University Research Ethics Committee, and the Danish Society for General Practice.
This project is part of a research collaboration with researchers from outside of the Technical University of Denmark, and your personal data will therefore also be shared, with utmost care, with the SOFIA Project Team at the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen. All data gathered during this study will be stored securely in accordance with General Data Protection Regulations and other requirements. Participants’ anonymity will be maintained in all publications.
The Technical University of Denmark, CVR no. 30060946, is the data controller responsible for processing personal data in this research project, funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.


Kevin Christopher Doherty
Guest Postdoc
DTU Health Tech
15 APRIL 2024