Popular iPhone App to Study Postpartum Depression Expands to New Countries, Modules and Android

April 27, 2017
Adult looking at a cell phone with a sleeping baby in the background

The PPD ACT app helps researchers identify women with postpartum depression and screen them for genetic differences. Photo by Max Englund/UNC Health Care.

The School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has launched the Android version of PPD ACTTM, a mobile app-based study helping to further the understanding of why some women suffer from Postpartum Depression (PPD) and others do not – critical knowledge for researchers working to find more effective treatments.

PPD ACTTM, previously available for iOS only, is now available in the U.S. and Australia for Android devices and the iOS version is now available in Canada. Additionally, all users in the U.S. may access a new module to help researchers understand the economic impact and burden that PPD has on society. The app surveys women to identify those who have had symptoms of PPD and invites certain women to provide DNA samples so that researchers can study the genes of those affected by PPD.

During its first year, approximately 14,000 women enrolled in the study, far surpassing expectations. PPD ACTTM was initially launched as an iPhone-based ResearchKit app, an open-source framework developed by Apple that allows researchers to create app-based studies with global reach. However, since approximately half of the U.S. population uses Android phones, as do many women in Australia, this new version of the app will open the doors for many more women to participate. Additionally, a Canadian team led by Women’s College Hospital in Ontario, Canada, has received funding to expand the iOS app into Canada, responding to the numerous requests from Canadian women wanting to participate in the study.

“The participation from the first year of the study is astounding and, frankly, unprecedented in terms of using the social media platform of an app to recruit women for study participation involving the donation of genetic samples,” said Samantha Meltzer-Brody, director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program at the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders and lead researcher for the study. “Launching the Android version in the U.S. and Australia and expanding into Canada allows for an even larger group of women [to have] the opportunity to share their experiences so that we can more effectively diagnose and treat PPD in the future.”

Read more on the School of Medicine website.