Does evidence support the use of mobile phone apps as a driver for promoting healthy lifestyles from a public health perspective? A systematic review of Randomized Control Trials

L. Covolo, E. Ceretti, M. Moneda, S. Castaldi, U. Gelatti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective The aim of this systematic review was to find a scientific evidence on the efficacy of apps in promoting healthy lifestyles. Methods The research was carried out according to PRISMA Statement. Pubmed, Embase and Google Scholar searches were carried out up to September 2016 focusing on randomized control trials (RCTs). Results Forty RCTs were selected. Most of the studies targeted weight management, PA and healthy eating (N = 35). A few RCTs focused on apps designed to sun protection, smoking cessation and alcohol consumption (N = 5). Only 10 RCTs (25%) found statistical difference between intervention and control groups for all the outcomes measured. Most of the studies had a short follow-up (65%, less than 6 months) and half of them a very small sample size (fewer than 100 subjects). Conclusion Overall, the evidence so far showed a modest efficacy of apps in health promotion. Practice implications There is a need to improve the overall quality of intervention studies focused on mobile apps in order to understand if they could became a valuable tool in support of health professionals and their efforts to promote education and health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2231-2243
Number of pages13
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Volume100
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017

Keywords

  • Efficay
  • Healthy lifestyles
  • Mobile phone applications
  • Public health
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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