PTSD Coach

Disease Category: ,
Target Audience:

Clinical Effectiveness
Version: 1.51
Developer: US Department of Veterans Affairs
Review Date: 2016-03-03
Cost: Free

Overall App Summary:

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition with a lifetime prevalence of 7.8% in the U.S. population per the National Comorbidity Survey. The condition may impact anyone and can develop after exposure to a traumatic or terrifying event. PTSD Coach is a useful smartphone application that offers practical tools to patients already in treatment for PTSD. The symptom tracking and skills modules are easy to use and based on clinical evidence. The app also provides accurate educational information about the illness. While the app was developed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, it is valuable to all patients with PTSD. The fact that PTSD coach is free, does not share or market user data, backed by the Veterans Administration, and built by experts in the field makes it a powerful app that is easy to recommend.


App’s Intended Use:

PTSD coach provides adjunctive tools to help monitor, manage, and learn more about the symptoms of PTSD. PTSD coach tracks symptoms and progress in terms of mood, anger management, and stress reducing exercises. The app also allows you to input your favorite pieces of music and to use it to help you relax. There are also an array of tools that can help patients cope with their symptoms. The app also allows you to set up a “support network” which allows you to have a small circle to connect with.


Who’s this app most useful for?

This app is most useful for those currently in treatment for PTSD and who with their treaters want to use this tool to monitor symptoms or develop new coping skills and tools. Patients who symptoms are fluctuating may find the app most useful.


How should one use it?

The best use for this app would be in partnership with a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, providing treatment for PTSD.


Why should anyone use this app? Is it clinically relevant?

PTSD coach is supported by several small published clinical studies and provides relevant and actionable tools for patients to use. The information users can collect with it may provide valuable information to clinicians and the skills users learn from the app may help with disease management.


Is there any published evidence that the app actually works?

There are several small clinical studies that have examined the acceptability of PTSD Coach in patients and other studies that have explored the impact of various PTSD elements and modules on patient outcomes.


Regulatory Compliance

Not FDA cleared, but most likely exempt under Mobile Medical Applications guidance – enforcement discretion.


What is the most important/ desirable feature of the app?

The app is easy to use and well designed. It is built with the patient in mind and created to be useful and not burdensome. Caregivers often are important for patients with PTSD, but this app does not provide features to support caregivers.


How would you compare this app to others in its class?

While there are numerous mental health apps and numerous symptom trackers, PTSD coach stands out first as it is designed by the Veterans Administration thus is from a trustworthy source. It also has some clinical studies supporting its use which is very rare for mental health apps. Finally it is free to use and does not seek to market or sell user data.


If there’s a paid version, is it worth the upgrade?

Not applicable.

Security and Privacy

Password: No
Data Security: Discussed in End User License Agreement during app setup
Data Sharing: Discussed in End User License Agreement during app setup
Regulatory Compliance:

John Torous

Dr. John Torous is a clinical fellow and senior resident in psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts who has a background in electrical engineering and computer sciences. He is chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s work group on smartphone apps and has also developed his own smartphone apps for clinical psychiatric research. He has published numerous papers on smartphone apps and app evaluation, and his work has been featured in Scientific American and Nature News. He is editor in chief of JMIR Mental Health, the leading journal for mental health and technology, and co-chair the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society's health information technology committee.

Ayesha Khalid

Ayesha is an ENT surgeon at Harvard Medical School with an MBA in Global Leadership and Innovation from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Ayesha serves on several Boards for medical organizations and is currently on the board of the American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery. Ayesha has experience with consulting for private equity firms to evaluate business opportunities in the health IT and medical practice management. She served as Vice-President of Business Development of a digital health start-up out of Johns Hopkins, Doctella. Presently, in addition to clinical practice, Ayes is the Clinician Director for CBIT at the Yale School of Medicine and is curating early stage health IT startups. You can follow Ayesha on Twitter at @ayeshakhalidmd

Conflicts of Interest

Employment: Cambridge Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Yale School of Medicine; Consultant/ Advisor: 480 Biomedical, Stallergenes Greer, Smith and Nephew, Lambay Advisors, Burr Pilgrim Mayer; Ownership: 480 Biomedical, Collective Healthtech, GeoHealth

Adam Landman

Dr. Adam Landman, is an emergency physician and Chief Medical Information Officer at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Dr. Landman holds degrees in information systems and health care policy from Carnegie Mellon University and a medical degree from UMDNJ – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. After medical school, he trained in emergency medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed the RWJ Foundation Clinical Scholars fellowship in health services research, where he worked on qualitative and quantitative studies on the adoption of health information technology (HIT) in the emergency department (ED) and prehospital settings.

Conflicts of Interest:

Employment: Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Consultant/ Advisor: None; Ownership: None; Research: CRICO.

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