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Scoping review: Development and assessment of evaluation frameworks of mobile health apps for recommendations to consumers

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journal contribution
posted on 01.06.2021, 00:00 authored by Martin Hensher, Paul CooperPaul Cooper, S W A Dona, Mary Rose AngelesMary Rose Angeles, Dieu NguyenDieu Nguyen, Natalie WinterNatalie Winter, Mary Lou Chatterton, Anna PeetersAnna Peeters
Abstract

Objective
The study sought to review the different assessment items that have been used within existing health app evaluation frameworks aimed at individual, clinician, or organizational users, and to analyze the scoring and evaluation methods used in these frameworks.


Materials and Methods
We searched multiple bibliographic databases and conducted backward searches of reference lists, using search terms that were synonyms of “health apps,” “evaluation,” and “frameworks.” The review covered publications from 2011 to April 2020. Studies on health app evaluation frameworks and studies that elaborated on the scaling and scoring mechanisms applied in such frameworks were included.


Results
Ten common domains were identified across general health app evaluation frameworks. A list of 430 assessment criteria was compiled across 97 identified studies. The most frequently used scaling mechanism was a 5-point Likert scale. Most studies have adopted summary statistics to generate the total scoring of each app, and the most popular approach taken was the calculation of mean or average scores. Other frameworks did not use any scaling or scoring mechanism and adopted criteria-based, pictorial, or descriptive approaches, or “threshold” filter.


Discussion
There is wide variance in the approaches to evaluating health apps within published frameworks, and this variance leads to ongoing uncertainty in how to evaluate health apps.


Conclusions
A new evaluation framework is needed that can integrate the full range of evaluative criteria within one structure, and provide summative guidance on health app rating, to support individual app users, clinicians, and health organizations in choosing or recommending the best health app.

History

Journal

Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association

Volume

28

Issue

6

Pagination

1318 - 1329

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Location

Oxford, Eng.

ISSN

1067-5027

eISSN

1527-974X

Language

English

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal