File(s) under permanent embargo

Evaluating mobile phone applications for health behaviour change: a systematic review

journal contribution
posted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by Fiona McKayFiona McKay, Christina Chi Yan Cheng, A Wright, J Shill, H Stephens, M Uccellini
INTRODUCTION: Increasing smartphones access has allowed for increasing development and use of smart phone applications (apps). Mobile health interventions have previously relied on voice or text-based short message services (SMS), however, the increasing availability and ease of use of apps has allowed for significant growth of smartphone apps that can be used for health behaviour change. This review considers the current body of knowledge relating to the evaluation of apps for health behaviour change. The aim of this review is to investigate approaches to the evaluation of health apps to identify any current best practice approaches. METHOD: A systematic review was conducted. Data were collected and analysed in September 2016. Thirty-eight articles were identified and have been included in this review. RESULTS: Articles were published between 2011- 2016, and 36 were reviews or evaluations of apps related to one or more health conditions, the remaining two reported on an investigation of the usability of health apps. Studies investigated apps relating to the following areas: alcohol, asthma, breastfeeding, cancer, depression, diabetes, general health and fitness, headaches, heart disease, HIV, hypertension, iron deficiency/anaemia, low vision, mindfulness, obesity, pain, physical activity, smoking, weight management and women's health. CONCLUSION: In order to harness the potential of mobile health apps for behaviour change and health, we need better ways to assess the quality and effectiveness of apps. This review is unable to suggest a single best practice approach to evaluate mobile health apps. Few measures identified in this review included sufficient information or evaluation, leading to potentially incomplete and inaccurate information for consumers seeking the best app for their situation. This is further complicated by a lack of regulation in health promotion generally.



Journal of telemedicine and telecare






22 - 30




London, Eng.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2016, The Authors