Safety, acceptability and use of a smartphone application, BlueIce, for young people who self-harm: protocol for an open Phase 1 trial.

Paul Stallard, Joanna Porter, Rebecca Grist

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Background: Up to 18% of adolescents will engage in an act of self-harm before young adulthood, with the majority of acts occurring in private. Mobile apps may offer a way of providing support for young people at times of distress to prevent self-harm.
Objective: This is a proof-of-concept study designed to explore the safety, acceptability, feasibility, and usability of a smartphone app, BlueIce, with young people who are self-harming.
Methods: In this phase I open trial we will evaluate BlueIce, a smartphone app developed and coproduced with young people with lived experience of self-harm. BlueIce includes a mood-monitoring diary, selection of mood-lifting techniques based on cognitive behavior therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, and direct access to emergency telephone numbers. We will recruit young people (n=50) attending specialist child and adolescent mental health services with a current or past history of self-harm to trial BlueIce as an adjunct to their usual care. Questionnaires and interviews will be completed at baseline, postfamiliarization (2 weeks), and at follow-up (12 weeks after baseline) to assess safety, app use, and acceptability. Interviews will be undertaken with clinicians to assess the feasibility of BlueIce within a clinical setting.
Results: Recruitment occurred between May and November 2016. The recruitment target was 50, and by the beginning of November 54 young people had been referred.
Conclusions: This study is the first to evaluate an app specifically developed with young people for young people (under the age of 18 years) who self-harm. It will determine whether BlueIce is acceptable, how often it is used, and whether it is safe and does not have any unintentional adverse effects. This information will determine whether a feasibility trial to test recruitment, randomization, retention, and appropriate outcome measures should be pursued.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationJournal of Medical Internet Research
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2016


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