Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

KiBA App Development

Anxiety disorders, like specific phobias, are among the most prevalent mental health disorders that may hinder children in their development. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is considered an effective treatment for childhood anxiety. After treatment, children are encouraged to practice at home with the exposure exercises they learned during CBT to further develop their skills. However, practicing at home is often a challenge for children.

Anke Klein

Together with a large international team we developed the KibA-program to help children with a specific phobia as best as possible. Children with a specific phobia are excessively afraid of certain objects, animals or situations and this can make their life at home, at school and elsewhere quite difficult. This program is designed for children between 7 and 14 years old, as in this age group specific phobias occur quite regularly. With the KibA program we investigate whether we can further improve the treatment of children with a specific phobia using a mobile health exercise program. Mobile health (mHealth) apps have the potential to facilitate at-home practice. Our goal is to describe the development of the KibA app, test its usability and develop the app in such a way that it is freely available by therapists after the test period.

In our first study, we included therapists and children to review the app mock-ups during five meetings. IT specialists of Trifork b.v. incorporated their feedback multiple times. Then, two beta-tester groups tested the app and rated its usability. In our current RCT-study, children with a specific phobia used the app for four weeks at home following CBT. In this study we investigated whether the app helps children to practice more with the skills they are taught in CBT.

The app is currently being further developed. We are working on an adapted login environment in which therapists can only see their own clients. In addition, the user-friendliness of the therapist dashboard is being improved upon. We are working on the project in close collaboration with the Gamelab of The Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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