Online Program

Qualitative study of user perceptions of health and fitness apps: Benefits and barriers

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 2:50 p.m. - 3:10 p.m.

Wei Peng, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Shaheen Kanthawala, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Shupei Yuan, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Ali Hussain, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Background: Apps for health exist in the Apple app store and Google play in large quantities, but oftentimes, consumers do not continue to use them after initial usage, are averse toward using them at all or many times, unaware that such apps even exist.

Objective/Purpose: The purpose of our study was to examine from the users’ perceptive to qualitatively determine the design and content elements of health apps that facilitate or impede usage.

Methods: We conducted 6 focus groups and 5 individual interviews with a mixture of white and blue collar job holding adults and college students ranging from ages 18 to 67, totaling 44 participants, who owned a smartphone. The participants were asked about their general and health specific app usage. They were then shown specific features of exemplar health apps and prompted to provide feedback. The focus groups and interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and coded using the software NVivo.

Results: Inductive thematic analysis was adopted to analyze the data and eight themes were identified: 1) barriers to adopt and continue to use health apps, 2) motivators, 3) information and personalized guidance, 4) tracking for awareness and progress, 5) credibility, 6) goal setting, 7) reminder, 8) sharing of personal information.

Discussion: This qualitative research with a diverse pool of participants extended the work on challenges and opportunities for smarphone health apps by Dennison and colleagues. The results were interpreted using the extended unified theory of acceptance and usage of technology and the self-regulation aspect of the social cognitive theory. The findings provide researchers, app designers and health care providers a better way to develop and evaluate health and fitness mobile apps from the users’ perspective.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify the barriers to health app usage in people, including content and design. Discuss the perceived health benefits for users Evaluate these results in the context to theories such as UTAUT2 and social cognitive theory

Keyword(s): Communication Technology, Self-Management

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the moderator for the focus groups conducted and was involved in coding the transcripts of the same.
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.