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Woebot® Evaluation

"Woebot is an automated conversational agent (chatbot) who helps you monitor mood and learn about yourself." Evaluated: December 2019

The evaluation below is an example of the types of information you may find when using our Model to assess specific apps. These sample evaluations are not intended to enable you to make a decision about choosing these specific apps for actual use, as such a decision is a personal one that you will make based on your own unique preferences, needs, and evaluation. We strongly encourage you to download these apps for yourself and use our Model to conduct your own assessment.

These evaluations were completed December 6th and 7th, 2019, and are based on publicly available information found by our Panel at that time. In June 2020, APA's contacted the app developers and offered to them an opportunity to provide feedback on these assessments. Comments from developers who responded are included here. These comments do not necessarily reflect publicly available information at the time of the original assessment or presently.

 Access & Background

On which platforms/operating systems does the app work? Does it also work on desktop?

iOS, Android, and Facebook Messenger App

Has the app been updated in the last 180 days?

Two weeks ago in both iOS and Android as seen in the version history in the app store.

Does the app identify ownership?

Woebot Labs

Does the app identify funding sources and conflicts of interest?

No

Does the app come from a trusted source?

Unclear

Does the app claim to be medical?

No

Are there additional or hidden costs?

No

Does the app work offline?

Yes

Does the app work with accessibility features of the iPhone/Android? Is it accessible for those with impaired vision or other disabilities?

No app accessibility settings are apparent within the app to this reviewer

 Privacy & Safety

Is there a transparent privacy policy that is clear and accessible before use?

Woebot uses data, data are anonymized; claims to have data privacy and security standards. You can obtain a copy of your data and request deletion of data at any time. Also provides a summary on how Facebook uses data; however, data transmitted to Facebook Messenger are subject to Facebook privacy policy. Complete privacy policy is also available in the app store. Woebot also cautions that this is not to be used as an emergency service. See: woebot.io/privacy

Does the app collect, use, and/or transmit sensitive data? If yes, does it claim to do so securely?

See above (does transmit sensitive data; claims to anonymize it; data sent to Facebook falls under purview of Facebook; claims secure transmission. Can opt-out of creating an account and store all data locally on the device).

Does the app declare data use and purpose?

Yes, Woebot uses data to refine their algorithm to improve their product and tailor the user experience.

Does the app describe use of PHI?

No

Can you opt of of data collection or delete data?

Can opt-out of data collection and use Woebot locally on the device.

Is data maintained in the device or on the web?

Data are sent to Woebot servers.

Does the app explain security systems used?

It does not appear to.

What third parties does the app share data with?

Woebot shares data with Facebook for users. A special Woebot program may share data with medical academic partners or other partners. When using the app, chatbot informs the user of this policy.

If appropriate, is the app equipped to respond to potential harms or safety concerns?

Yes, this reviewer found evidence within the app that suggests so.

 Clinical Foundation

Does the app appear to do what it claims to do?

It appears to use facets of CBT/DBT.

Is there evidence of specific benefit from academic institutions, publications, end user feedback or research studies?

Woebot provides a citation in-app to a research study at a university, found at woebot.io/how-it-works.

Does the app have a clinical/recovery foundation relevant to your intended use?

App claims to "draw... from a therapeutic framework known as cognitive behavioral therapy."

Is the app content correct, well-written, and relevant?

It appears so.

What are the relevant sources or references supporting the app use cases?

Website claims "research studies" for depression use cases exist.

Was there an attempt to validate app usability and feasibility?

Woebot provides a citation in-app to a research study at a university, found at woebot.io/how-it-works.

Is there evidence of effectiveness/efficacy?

Reviewer is unable to determine during this review.

 Usability

Does the app seem easy to use?

The app appears to have a straightforward interface; however—and despite a disclaimer that the app is not to be used in a crisis/emergency—there appear to be some functional questions around crisis features within the app.

What are the main engagement styles of the app?

Automated chatbot interaction

Do the app and its features align with your needs and priorities?

Not readily available to this reviewer. User should determine.

Is it customizable?

It does not appear to be

Does the app clearly define its functional scope?

Yes, in the opinion of this reviewer. The app clearly outlines its use cases and target audience (e.g., those seeking an automated chatbot to assist with depression symptoms.

 Therapeutic Goal

Can data be easily shared and interpreted in a way that's consistent with the stated purpose of the app?

The user is emailed a link to a personalized dashboard where they can request a copy of their data, accessible for 60 minutes. The dashboard is protected with login credentials.

Do you own your data?

Unclear to this reviewer given information found in the app.

Can the app share data with EMR and other data tools (Apple HealthKit, FitBit)?

Unclear or no information apparent during this evaluation.

Is the app for individual use or to be used in collaboration with a provider? If intended to be used with a provider, does the app have the ability to export or transfer data?

Unclear or no information apparent during this evaluation.

Does the app lead to any positive behavior change or skill acquisition?

Not readily available to this reviewer. User should determine.

Does the app improve therapeutic alliance between patient and provider?

Not readily available to this reviewer. User should determine.

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