Key summary:


  • Few human-centered design approaches to digital solutions exist in the field of mental health, and rarely are end users involved in their development.
  • The main objective of this literature review is to understand how human-centered design is considered in e-mental health intervention research.
  • A total of 30 studies met the inclusion criteria, of which 22 mentioned using human-centered design approaches or specific design methods in the development of an e-mental health solution. Reported approaches were classified as participatory design (11/27, 41%), codesign (6/27, 22%), user-centered design (5/27, 19%), or a specific design method (5/27, 19%). 
  • Our results show that some attempts have indeed been made to integrate human-centered design approaches into digital mental health technology development. However, these attempts rely very little on designers and design research.
  • Researchers from other domains and technology developers would be wise to learn the underpinnings of human-centered design methods before selecting one over another. Inviting designers for assistance when implementing a particular approach would also be beneficial.
  • To further motivate interest in and use of human-centered design principles in the world of e-mental health, we make nine suggestions for better reporting of human-centered design approaches in future research.


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