Maintenance Notice

Due to necessary scheduled maintenance, the JMIR Publications website will be unavailable from Monday, March 11, 2019 at 4:00 PM to 4:30 PM EST. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Who will be affected?

Advertisement

Currently accepted at: JMIR mHealth and uHealth

Date Submitted: Jun 12, 2018
Open Peer Review Period: Jun 12, 2018 - Jul 25, 2018
Date Accepted: Aug 1, 2018
(closed for review but you can still tweet)

This paper has been accepted and is currently in production.

It will appear shortly on 10.2196/11281

The final accepted version (not copyedited yet) is in this tab.

The final, peer-reviewed published version of this preprint can be found here:

Features, Behavioral Change Techniques, and Quality of the Most Popular Mobile Apps to Measure Physical Activity: Systematic Search in App Stores

Simões P, Silva AG, Amaral J, Queirós A, Rocha NP, Rodrigues M

Features, Behavioral Change Techniques, and Quality of the Most Popular Mobile Apps to Measure Physical Activity: Systematic Search in App Stores

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2018;6(10):e11281

DOI: 10.2196/11281

PMID: 30368438

PMCID: 6229520

Features, Behavioral Change Techniques, and Quality of the Most Popular Mobile Apps to Measure Physical Activity: Systematic Search in App Stores

  • Patrícia Simões; 
  • Anabela G Silva; 
  • João Amaral; 
  • Alexandra Queirós; 
  • Nelson P Rocha; 
  • Mário Rodrigues

ABSTRACT

Background:

It is estimated that 23% of adults and 55% of older adults do not meet the recommended levels of physical activity. Thus, improving the levels of physical activity is of paramount importance, but it requires the use of low-cost resources that facilitate universal access without depleting the health system. The high number of apps available constitutes an opportunity, but it also makes it quite difficult for the layperson to select the most appropriate app. Furthermore, the information available in the app stores is often insufficient, lacks quality, and is not evidence based, and the systematic reviews fail to assess app quality using standardized and validated instruments.

Objective:

The objective of this study was to systematically assess the features, content, and quality of the most popular apps that can be used to measure and, potentially, promote physical activity.

Methods:

Systematic searches were conducted on Apple App Store, Google Play, and Windows Phone Store between December 2017 and January 2018. Apps were included if their primary objective was to assess the aspects of physical activity, if they had a user rating of at least 4, if their number of ratings was ≥100, and if they were free. Apps meeting these criteria were independently assessed by two reviewers regarding their general and technical information, aspects of physical activity, presence of behavioral change techniques, and quality. Data were analyzed using means and SDs or frequencies and percentages.

Results:

Of 51 apps included, none specified the age of the target group and only one mentioned the involvement of health professionals. Most apps offered the possibility to work in background (n=50) and allowed data sharing (n=40). Regarding physical activity, most apps measured steps and distance (n=11) or steps, distance, and time (n=17). Only 18 apps, all of which measured number of steps, followed the guidelines on recommendations for physical activity. On average, 5.5 (SD 1.8) behavioral change techniques were identified per app; the most frequently used techniques were “provide feedback on performance” (n=50) and “prompt self-monitoring of behavior” (n=50). The overall quality score was 3.88 (SD 0.34).

Conclusions:

Although the overall quality of the apps was moderate, the quality of their content, particularly the use of international guidelines on physical activity, should be improved. Additionally, a more in-depth assessment of apps should be performed before releasing them for public use, particularly regarding their reliability and validity.


 Citation

Please cite as:

Simões P, Silva AG, Amaral J, Queirós A, Rocha NP, Rodrigues M

Features, Behavioral Change Techniques, and Quality of the Most Popular Mobile Apps to Measure Physical Activity: Systematic Search in App Stores

JMIR mHealth and uHealth. (forthcoming/in press)

DOI: 10.2196/11281

URL: https://preprints.jmir.org/preprint/11281

PMID: 30368438

PMCID: 6229520

Per the author's request the PDF is not available.

© The authors. All rights reserved. This is a privileged document currently under peer-review/community review (or an accepted/rejected manuscript). Authors have provided JMIR Publications with an exclusive license to publish this preprint on it's website for review and ahead-of-print citation purposes only. While the final peer-reviewed paper may be licensed under a cc-by license on publication, at this stage authors and publisher expressively prohibit redistribution of this draft paper other than for review purposes.