Online Program

Integration of evidence-based guidelines and transtheoretical model of change into mobile health app design

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 5:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
Evidence-based guidelines and health behavior theories have had little impact on mobile health app design. The number of consumer health apps is currently estimated at more than 40,000 and growing. The app stores' descriptions give minimal information, and many people who download health apps don't even open them once, let alone sustain regular use. A recent Pew survey found that nineteen percent of smartphone owners have downloaded an app related to health and only seven percent of people surveyed used a smartphone app to track health, like weight, diet, and exercise routine or to monitor a chronic disease.

With no shortage of health apps but minimal success in health app retention and use, we first considered the extent to which evidence-based guidelines or Transtheoretical Model of Change were integrated into health app design. For the former, we surveyed weight loss apps and for the latter we survey fitness apps. We found a few instances of weight loss apps incorporating evidence-based guidelines, and noted that their app store descriptions rarely used this language or referred to underlying research. Of the fitness apps, we found none that were based on Transtheoretical Model of Change.

Smartphone use is growing and the goal of our research is to create a design framework that incorporates evidence-based guidelines and Transtheoretical Model of Change. We will then test this model, initially with graduate students in a Mobile Health Design course, to determine the impact on the design process, the result, and formative evaluation of prototypes.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify the the role of health behavior theory in designing, developing, and evaluating mobile health apps Describe reasons why mobile health app adoption and retention is low Assess how transtheoretical model of change can improve health app design

Keyword(s): Technology, Health Communications

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have considerable expertise in the design and evaluation of evidence-based mobile health apps. I teach Mobile Health Design in the Health Communication Program in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. I presented at APHA12 on Mobile Health Search. I am engaged in research on this topic as well.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.