Assessing the usability and user engagement of Thought Spot – A digital mental health help-seeking solution for transition-aged youth

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Internet Interv. 2021 Mar 26;24:100386. doi: 10.1016/j.invent.2021.100386. eCollection 2021 Apr.


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the perceived usability of and user engagement with a digital platform (Thought Spot) designed to enhance mental health and wellness help-seeking among transition-aged youth (TAY; 17-29-years old).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Survey responses and usage patterns were collected as part of a randomized controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of Thought Spot. Participants given Thought Spot completed an adapted Usefulness, Satisfaction, and Ease of Use (USE) Questionnaire to measure perceived usability of the platform. User engagement patterns on Thought Spot were examined using analytics data collected throughout the study (March 2018-June 2019).

RESULTS: A total of 131 transition-aged participants completed the USE questionnaire and logged on to Thought Spot at least once. Ease of learning scored higher than ease of use, usefulness and satisfaction. Participants identified numerous strengths and challenges related to usability, visual appeal, functionality and usefulness of the content. In terms of user engagement, most participants stopped using the platform after 3 weeks. Participants searched and were interested in a variety of resources, including mental health, counselling and social services.

DISCUSSION: Participants reported mixed experiences while using Thought Spot and exhibited low levels of long-term user engagement. User satisfaction, the willingness to recommend Thought Spot to others, and the willingness for future use appeared to be influenced by content relevance, ease of learning, available features, and other contextual factors. Analysis of the types of resources viewed and searches conducted by TAY end-users provided insight into their behaviour and needs.

CONCLUSION: Users had mixed perceptions about the usability of Thought Spot, which may have contributed to the high attrition rate. User satisfaction and engagement appears to be influenced by content relevance, ease of learning, and the types of features available. Further investigation to understand the contextual factors that affect TAYs’ adoption and engagement with digital mental health tools is required.

PMID:33936952 | PMC:PMC8079441 | DOI:10.1016/j.invent.2021.100386