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Behavioral functionality of mobile apps in health interventions: a systematic review of the literature.

Payne HE, Lister C, West JH, Bernhardt JM - JMIR Mhealth Uhealth (2015)

Bottom Line: Acceptability of mobile phone apps was high among mobile phone users.Of these studies, there is early evidence that apps are well received by users.Based on available research, mobile apps may be considered a feasible and acceptable means of administering health interventions, but a greater number of studies and more rigorous research and evaluations are needed to determine efficacy and establish evidence for best practices.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Computational Health Science Research Group, Department of Health Science, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, United States. hannahp413@gmail.com.

ABSTRACT

Background: Several thousand mobile phone apps are available to download to mobile phones for health and fitness. Mobile phones may provide a unique means of administering health interventions to populations.

Objective: The purpose of this systematic review was to systematically search and describe the literature on mobile apps used in health behavior interventions, describe the behavioral features and focus of health apps, and to evaluate the potential of apps to disseminate health behavior interventions.

Methods: We conducted a review of the literature in September 2014 using key search terms in several relevant scientific journal databases. Only English articles pertaining to health interventions using mobile phone apps were included in the final sample.

Results: The 24 studies identified for this review were primarily feasibility and pilot studies of mobile apps with small sample sizes. All studies were informed by behavioral theories or strategies, with self-monitoring as the most common construct. Acceptability of mobile phone apps was high among mobile phone users.

Conclusions: The lack of large sample studies using mobile phone apps may signal a need for additional studies on the potential use of mobile apps to assist individuals in changing their health behaviors. Of these studies, there is early evidence that apps are well received by users. Based on available research, mobile apps may be considered a feasible and acceptable means of administering health interventions, but a greater number of studies and more rigorous research and evaluations are needed to determine efficacy and establish evidence for best practices.

No MeSH data available.


Systematic review of the literature flowchart.
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figure1: Systematic review of the literature flowchart.

Mentions: Our query returned 2254 articles. The authors reviewed the titles of articles and abstracts and eliminated duplicates and studies of non-human subjects, which reduced the sample to 334 articles. Further inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to the sample of articles. Inclusion criteria included using a mobile app (iPhone, Android, or Windows); an intervention study of some type; use of behavioral theory, constructs, or strategies; studying a public health topic with health indicators reported; and published after 2007 to the time of the search (September 19, 2014). Studies were excluded if they were non-English studies, if they assessed an app through qualitative data only, if they had ambiguous language pertaining to whether or not they used a mobile phone app, or if they used a Web-based app and not specifically a mobile phone app. This resulted in a final sample of 24 articles selected for inclusion in the current systematic review (see Figure 1) [12,18-40].


Behavioral functionality of mobile apps in health interventions: a systematic review of the literature.

Payne HE, Lister C, West JH, Bernhardt JM - JMIR Mhealth Uhealth (2015)

Systematic review of the literature flowchart.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4376122&req=5

figure1: Systematic review of the literature flowchart.
Mentions: Our query returned 2254 articles. The authors reviewed the titles of articles and abstracts and eliminated duplicates and studies of non-human subjects, which reduced the sample to 334 articles. Further inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to the sample of articles. Inclusion criteria included using a mobile app (iPhone, Android, or Windows); an intervention study of some type; use of behavioral theory, constructs, or strategies; studying a public health topic with health indicators reported; and published after 2007 to the time of the search (September 19, 2014). Studies were excluded if they were non-English studies, if they assessed an app through qualitative data only, if they had ambiguous language pertaining to whether or not they used a mobile phone app, or if they used a Web-based app and not specifically a mobile phone app. This resulted in a final sample of 24 articles selected for inclusion in the current systematic review (see Figure 1) [12,18-40].

Bottom Line: Acceptability of mobile phone apps was high among mobile phone users.Of these studies, there is early evidence that apps are well received by users.Based on available research, mobile apps may be considered a feasible and acceptable means of administering health interventions, but a greater number of studies and more rigorous research and evaluations are needed to determine efficacy and establish evidence for best practices.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Computational Health Science Research Group, Department of Health Science, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, United States. hannahp413@gmail.com.

ABSTRACT

Background: Several thousand mobile phone apps are available to download to mobile phones for health and fitness. Mobile phones may provide a unique means of administering health interventions to populations.

Objective: The purpose of this systematic review was to systematically search and describe the literature on mobile apps used in health behavior interventions, describe the behavioral features and focus of health apps, and to evaluate the potential of apps to disseminate health behavior interventions.

Methods: We conducted a review of the literature in September 2014 using key search terms in several relevant scientific journal databases. Only English articles pertaining to health interventions using mobile phone apps were included in the final sample.

Results: The 24 studies identified for this review were primarily feasibility and pilot studies of mobile apps with small sample sizes. All studies were informed by behavioral theories or strategies, with self-monitoring as the most common construct. Acceptability of mobile phone apps was high among mobile phone users.

Conclusions: The lack of large sample studies using mobile phone apps may signal a need for additional studies on the potential use of mobile apps to assist individuals in changing their health behaviors. Of these studies, there is early evidence that apps are well received by users. Based on available research, mobile apps may be considered a feasible and acceptable means of administering health interventions, but a greater number of studies and more rigorous research and evaluations are needed to determine efficacy and establish evidence for best practices.

No MeSH data available.