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Mood scales for mobile App- UX Research

Literature Review by Will Remigio


Article Title: Developing scales for smartphone applications together: Youth and municipal case worker perspectives. Mackrill, T., Ebsen, F., & Antczak, H. (2015). Developing scales for smartphone applications together: Youth and municipal case worker perspectives. Advances in Social Work, 16(1), 67.

Research Purpose/Question(s)

The purpose of this study was to discover how #caseworkers and #youth involved in the criminal justice system could collaborate in creating outcome measures for a mobile app which aimed at increasing goal-oriented talk and emotional-behavioral communication between both parties. The study’s challenge involved creating a system that met the desires of both youth and their caseworkers.

Sample/ Audience

The study was done in Copenhagen, Denmark with six #socialworkers (caseworkers)—one male and five females—and six of their clients. The clients were chosen not because they had any problems but because the social workers deemed to be good participants. Three of the clients were #youngwomen aged 14, 16, 17, and the remaining three were #youngmen of the age of sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen.


Three meetings were held where the group of caseworkers and young clients offered input on the design. The first two meetings was facilitated by the lead researcher (psychologist) and the software development team held the last meeting. Participants were asked to answer questions based on their opinions but to also attempt to represent the opinions of others like them. Sessions were structure in two phases, first the caseworkers offered feedback without young clients being present, then half of the caseworkers sat with the young clients while they offered feedback, but the caseworkers were instructed to only listen. Discussion was opened for both caseworkers and young clients at the end of the session. After noting the participant’s input from the session, researchers compared and contrasted differences between caseworker and young client feedback and presented information to participants for clarification during future sessions. All data were secured according to the standards of Denmark’s Data Protection Agency.


The vision for the project was to create an integrated system where caseworkers and young clients could better communicate about the client’s feelings and behaviors. The mobile App (client facing) asked clients to reflect how their week went in the form of a normative scale (as shown in Figure 1). The psychologist created the first version to the middle (neutral) of the scale in green, so clients can see that ordinary days are positive. Caseworkers agreed with psychologists but asked the scale to be flipped as to begin with positive and end with negative, to reflect strength focused approach, a perspective in social work practice. The young clients however, did not agree with the psychologists nor the social workers. Advocating the positive-focus neglected the reality of their experienced struggle. Therefore, suggesting a more basic scale.

"P.s. The designer in me just had to remake the original scales. Side by side comparison."

Another feature of the app included seeing a graph displaying the well-being progress outcome of young clients. The graph strayed from a #riskmanagement paradigm to a change management, after the input from caseworkers and young clients. Some preference differences between participants showed that young clients preferred to view their well-being chart starting from low to high (Figure 5), versus starting from high to low, as preferred by the caseworkers (Figure 4).

Strengths of Study

The study’s strength is reflected by the involvement from the end-users of the mobile app system during the planning stage of development. The study aimed at understanding whether young clients and caseworkers would value the system enough to use it in their day-to-day lives and to improve communication between young client and caseworkers.

Limitations of Study

The mobile app’s system cannot be considered a viable solution for all young clients receiving casework services because the research’s sample size included only six young clients and six caseworkers. Additional research is needed to define which client population would most benefit from using this #mobileapp system intervention.

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