Background: Quality of life (QoL) is a prominent outcome measure in mental health. However, conventional methods for QoL assessment rely heavily on language‐based communication and therefore may not be optimal for all individuals with severe mental health problems. In addition, QoL assessment is usually based on a fixed number of life domains. This approach conflicts with the notion that QoL is influenced by individual values and preferences. A digital assessment app facilitates both the accessibility and personalization of QoL assessment and may, therefore, help to further advance QoL assessment among individuals with severe mental health problems.

Objective: This study focused on the development of an innovative, visual, and personalized QoL assessment app for people with severe mental health problems: the QoL-ME.

Methods: This study targeted 3 groups of individuals with severe mental health problems: (1) people with psychiatric problems, (2) people treated in forensic psychiatry, and (3) people who are homeless. A group of 59 participants contributed to the 6 iterations of the cocreative development of the QoL-ME. In the brainstorming stage, consisting of the first iteration, participants’ previous experiences with questionnaires and mobile apps were explored. Participants gave their feedback on initial designs and wireframes in the second to fourth iterations that made up the design stage. In the usability stage that comprised the final 2 iterations, the usability of the QoL-ME was evaluated.

Results: In the brainstorming stage, participants stressed the importance of privacy and data security and of receiving feedback when answering questionnaires. Participants in the design stage indicated a preference for paging over scrolling, linear navigation, a clean and minimalist layout, the use of touchscreen functionality in various modes of interaction, and the use of visual analog scales. The usability evaluation in the usability stage revealed good to excellent usability.

Conclusions: The cocreative development of the QoL-ME resulted in an app that corresponds to the preferences of participants and has strong usability. Further research is needed to evaluate the psychometric quality of the QoL-ME and to investigate its usefulness in practice.

Additional Metadata
Keywords mobile app, quality of life, mental health, homeless persons, medical informatics
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Journal Jmir Mental Health
Buitenweg, D.C., Bongers, I.M.B, van de Mheen, H, van Oers, H. A. M., & Nieuwenhuizen, C. (2019). Cocreative Development of the QoL-ME: A Visual and Personalized Quality of Life Assessment App for People With Severe Mental Health Problems. Jmir Mental Health, 6(3). doi:10.2196/12378