A Review of Digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I Apps): Are They Designed for Engagement?
There are different ways to deliver Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), of which in-person (face to face) is the traditional delivery method. However, the scalability of in-person therapy is low. Digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (dCBT-I) is an alternative and there are tools on the market that are validated in clinical studies. In this paper, we provide a review of the existing evidence-based CBT-I apps and a summary of the published usability-oriented studies of these apps. The goal is to explore the range of interaction methods commonly applied in dCBT-I platforms, the potential impact for the users, and the design elements applied to achieve engagement. Six commercially available CBT-I apps tested by scientifically valid methods were accessed and reviewed. Commonalities were identified and categorized into interactive elements, CBT-I-related components, managerial features, and supportive motivational features. The dCBT-I apps were effectively assisting the users, and the type of interactions promoted engagement. The apps’ features were based on design principles from interactive product design, experience design, online social media, and serious gaming. This study contributes to the field by providing a critical summary of the existing dCBT-I apps that could guide future developers in the field to achieve a high engagement.