Patients' Perceptions of mHealth Apps: Meta-Ethnographic Review of Qualitative Studies.

Published on Jul 10, 2019in Jmir mhealth and uhealth4.313
· DOI :10.2196/13817
VanAnh L Vo1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Columbia University),
Lola Auroy1
Estimated H-index: 1
(CNRS: Centre national de la recherche scientifique),
Aline Sarradon-Eck8
Estimated H-index: 8
(French Institute of Health and Medical Research)
BACKGROUND: Mobile phones and tablets are being increasingly integrated into the daily lives of many people worldwide. Mobile health (mHealth) apps have promising possibilities for optimizing health systems, improving care and health, and reducing health disparities. However, health care apps often seem to be underused after being downloaded. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this paper is to reach a better understanding of people's perceptions, beliefs, and experience of mHealth apps as well as to determine how highly they appreciate these tools. METHODS: A systematic review was carried out on qualitative studies published in English, on patients' perception of mHealth apps between January 2013 and June 2018. Data extracted from these articles were synthesized using a meta-ethnographic approach and an interpretative method. RESULTS: A total of 356 articles were selected for screening, and 43 of them met the inclusion criteria. Most of the articles included populations inhabiting developed countries and were published during the last 2 years, and most of the apps on which they focused were designed to help patients with chronic diseases. In this review, we present the strengths and weaknesses of using mHealth apps from the patients' point of view. The strengths can be categorized into two main aspects: engaging patients in their own health care and increasing patient empowerment. The weaknesses pointed out by the participants focus on four main topics: trustworthiness, appropriateness, personalization, and accessibility of these tools. CONCLUSIONS: Although many of the patients included in the studies reviewed considered mHealth apps as a useful complementary tool, some major problems arise in their optimal use, including the need for more closely tailored designs, the cost of these apps, the validity of the information delivered, and security and privacy issues. Many of these issues could be resolved with more support from health providers. In addition, it would be worth developing standards to ensure that these apps provide patients accurate evidence-based information.
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