Assessing the Effectiveness of STAPP@Work, a Self-Management Mobile App, in Reducing Work Stress and Preventing Burnout: Single-Case Experimental Design Study

Background: Work-related stress and burnout remain common problems among employees, leading to impaired health and higher absenteeism. The use of mobile health apps to promote well-being has grown substantially; however, the impact of such apps on reducing stress and preventing burnout is limited. Objective: This study aims to assess the effectiveness of STAPP@Work, a mobile-based stress management intervention, on perceived stress, coping self-efficacy, and the level of burnout among mental health employees. Methods: The study used a single-case experimental design to examine the use of STAPP@Work among mental health employees without a known diagnosis of burnout (N=63). Participants used the app for 1 week per month repeatedly for a period of 6 months. Using a reversal design, the participants used the app 6 times to assess replicated immediate (1 week after use) and lasting (3 weeks after use) effects. The Perceived Stress Scale, the Coping Self-Efficacy Scale, and the Burnout Assessment Tool were used to measure the outcomes. Linear mixed models were used to analyze the data. Results: After 6 months of app use for 1 week per month, the participants showed a statistically significant decrease in perceived stress (b=–0.38, 95% CI –0.67 to –0.09; P=.01; Cohen d=0.50) and burnout symptoms (b=–0.31, 95% CI –0.51 to –0.12; P=.002; Cohen d=0.63) as well as a statistically significant improvement in problem-focused coping self-efficacy (b=0.42, 95% CI 0-0.85; P=.049; Cohen d=0.42). Long-term use of the app provided consistent reductions in burnout symptoms over time, including in the level of exhaustion and emotional impairment. Conclusions: The use of an app-based stress management intervention has been shown to reduce burnout symptoms and enhance coping self-efficacy among mental health workers. Prevention of burnout and minimization of work-related stress are of utmost importance to protect employee health and reduce absenteeism.

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