Health theory in mobile technology apps supporting young people’s long-term condition/s management: a systematic review

R. Majeed-Ariss, D. Fallon, A. Hall, J. McDonagh, S. Stones, V. Swallow

Abstract


Background: Prevalence of long-term conditions is rising in young
people. Mobile technologies featuring software program applications or ‘apps’ are well used by
young people for social networking and gaming. Apps are being increasingly utilized in health
contexts. This systematic review’s objective was to assess the effectiveness of smartphone and
tablet apps in supporting young people’s management of their physical long-term condition/s.
Methods: The search strategy combined indexed and free-text terms. Two reviewers independently
searched hits generated from five bibliographical databases and identified articles meeting the
inclusion criteria. Data extraction and quality assessment tools facilitated consistent
analysis and synthesis. Inter-rater-reliability was assessed. Findings: The search returned
1120 hits; four articles were included (one pilot randomized-controlled-trial and three
quasi-experimental studies) with a combined sample size of 46. Apps were aimed at diabetes
(n=2), asthma and cancer management. Further heterogeneity e.g. outcome measures and follow-up
times prevented meta-analysis. Health psychology models were notable by their absence, with
only one app reporting theoretical underpinning. Discussion: The disparity between the volume
of health apps available and the sub-set based on empirical evidence is of concern.

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Copyright (c) 2015 R. Majeed-Ariss, D. Fallon, A. Hall, J. McDonagh, S. Stones, V. Swallow

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