ORCAS's MoodHacker® Effective at Improving Depression and Work Absence

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ORCAS announces publication of randomized trial results of MoodHacker, one of the industry’s few clinically tested health apps, and its demonstrated efficacy in enabling adults to self-manage mild to moderate depression.

“To date, very few randomized clinical trials of mobile apps targeting depression and emotional well-being have been published in the peer-reviewed literature."

ORCAS, a health technology company, today announced the publication of a study on MoodHacker®, a mobile health app based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that enables adults to self-manage under-treated depression symptoms. The study (http://mhealth.jmir.org/2016/1/e8/) showed significant effects on reducing depression symptoms, activating new positive behaviors, and improved workplace functioning and absence.

“To date, very few randomized clinical trials of mobile apps targeting depression and emotional well-being have been published in the peer-reviewed literature,” said Michael Mulvihill, CEO of ORCAS. “We’re excited to be contributing to the mobile health research community. The results of the study tell us we’re moving in the right direction.”

The study contributes to the evidence base for “light touch” CBT-based mobile interventions that address mild to moderate depression. The authors state that it’s likely the effectiveness could be further enhanced with access to supplemental support such as counseling or coaching. In response, ORCAS released an updated version of MoodHacker® late last year, which includes anytime, anywhere access to live care providers, for those who could benefit from more support.

“What pleased us most is that we achieved essentially the same effect sizes on depression symptoms in this study as reported in previous meta-analyses of Internet-based CBT programs, which require a much larger time commitment than the brief daily interaction promoted in MoodHacker,” said Amy Birney, MPH, Behavioral Scientist at ORCAS and Lead Author.

Because most adults with depression never receive treatment, there is a need to develop early interventions, including self-management, that can be more easily accessed through mobile phones and more widely disseminated through new channels, such as employer-sponsored EAP or wellness programs.

“At ORCAS we believe that self-management apps really need to be integrated with larger solutions that focus on early identification and early treatment to have the kind of impact the “moves the needle” on clinical outcomes”, said Mulvihill.

The MoodHacker® CBT tool will soon be added to ORCAS’s MindSet: the Good Habit App™, in order to provide self-management strategies for individuals coping with depression and chronic health conditions. The efficacy of this new approach will be studied with a group of adults with metabolic syndrome and depression in 2016.

ORCAS extends a special thank you to Chestnut Global Partners for their participation in the study. This partnership marks the next generation of research studies that are more closely tied to the commercial market.


ORCAS is a health technology company that applies behavioral science to mobile, self-management interventions to help people improve their daily habits and overall health. ORCAS behavioral scientists have over 20 years of research experience running full clinical trials on web and mobile behavior change interventions.

With the rise of mobile technology and the Health 2.0 movement, ORCAS is poised to implement engaging solutions that create lasting improvements in health and wellness, while reducing costs to healthcare organizations, employers and consumers. For more, visit http://www.orcasinc.com.


For editorial information, contact:

Charles Epstein
BackBone, Inc.

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