Evidence corner

There are hundreds of thousands of health-related mobile apps available from app stores and research in the app space is growing substantially. The purpose of the app library evidence corner is to showcase recent New Zealand studies on health apps.

Recent New Zealand studies on health apps

  1. Effect of a Mobile Phone Intervention on Quitting Smoking in a Young Adult Population of Smokers: Randomized Controlled Trial.
  2. A Co-Designed, Culturally-Tailored mHealth Tool to Support Healthy Lifestyles in Māori and Pasifika Communities in New Zealand: Protocol for a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial.
  3. Beyond the Trial: Systematic Review of Real-World Uptake and Engagement With Digital Self-Help Interventions for Depression, Low Mood, or Anxiety
  4. "I did a lot of Googling": A qualitative study of exclusive breastfeeding support through social media
  5. Self-monitoring has no adverse effect on disordered eating in adults seeking treatment for obesity
  6. Acceptance of Using an Ecosystem of Mobile Apps for Use in Diabetes Clinic for Self-Management of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus
  7. Social anxiety apps: a systematic review and assessment of app descriptors across mobile store platforms
  8. Apps to improve diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour in children and adolescents: a review of quality, features and behaviour change techniques
  9. Use of and Beliefs About Mobile Phone Apps for Diabetes Self-Management: Surveys of People in a Hospital Diabetes Clinic and Diabetes Health Professionals in New Zealand

2018

Effect of a Mobile Phone Intervention on Quitting Smoking in a Young Adult Population of Smokers: Randomized Controlled Trial.

Baskerville NB, Struik LL, Guindon GE, Norman CD, Whittaker R1, et al. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2018 Oct 23;6(10):e10893 (pmid 30355563)

  1. National Institute of Health Innovation, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

This study aims to determine the efficacy of an evidence-informed smartphone app for smoking cessation, Crush the Crave (CTC), on reducing smoking prevalence among young adult smokers in comparison with an evidence-informed self-help guide, On the Road to Quitting (OnRQ). The study found that CTC was feasible for delivering cessation support but was not superior to a self-help guide in helping motivated young adults to quit smoking. View the full article for more details. 

A Co-Designed, Culturally-Tailored mHealth Tool to Support Healthy Lifestyles in Māori and Pasifika Communities in New Zealand: Protocol for a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial.

Verbiest M1, Borrell S2, Dalhousie S3, et al. JMIR Res Protoc. 2018 Aug 22;7(8):e10789 (pmid 30135054)

  1. National Institute for Health Innovation, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  2. Toi Tangata, Auckland, New Zealand
  3. The Fono, Auckland, New Zealand.

This study will assess the effects of a co-designed, culturally tailored, lifestyle support mHealth tool (the OL@-OR@ mobile phone app and website) on key risk factors and behaviors associated with an increased risk of noncommunicable disease (diet, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption) compared with a control condition. View the full article for more details.

Beyond the Trial: Systematic Review of Real-World Uptake and Engagement With Digital Self-Help Interventions for Depression, Low Mood, or Anxiety.

Fleming T1,2, Bavin L2, Lucassen M3, Stasiak K2, Hopkins S2, Merry S2. J Med Internet Res. 2018 Jun 6;20(6):e199 (pmid 29875089)

  1. Faculty of Health, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.
  2. Department of Psychological Medicine, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
  3. School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.

This study looked at user uptake and/or ongoing use, retention, or completion data (hereafter usage data or, for brevity, engagement) of self-help (unguided) digital interventions for depression, anxiety, or the enhancement of mood. The authors found that that uptake and engagement vary widely among the handful of implemented digital self-help apps and programs that have reported this, and that usage may vary from that reported in trials. View the full article for more details.


"I did a lot of Googling": A qualitative study of exclusive breastfeeding support through social media.

Alianmoghaddam N1, Phibbs S1, Benn C1. Women Birth. 2018 Jun 16. pii: S1871-5192(17)30247-0 (pmid 29921552 )

  1. School of Health Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand.

This qualitative study explored the influence of social media on exclusive breastfeeding practice. The study identified four themes: 1) Mothers need reliable online infant feeding information; 2) Smartphone apps can be a good option for promoting breastfeeding; 3) Information is accessed through weak ties among breastfeeding mothers on Facebook, and 4) the utility of geographically distant infant feeding support via Skype.
The implications for practice: breastfeeding advocates should use social media to promote and support exclusive breast-feeding practice. View the abstract for more details. 


Self-monitoring has no adverse effect on disordered eating in adults seeking treatment for obesity.

Authors: Jospe MR1,2, Brown RC1, Williams SM3, Roy M2, Meredith-Jones KA2, Taylor RW2. Obes Sci Pract. 2018 Apr 19;4(3):283-288 (pmid 29951219).

  1. Department of Human Nutrition University of Otago Dunedin New Zealand.
  2. Department of Medicine University of Otago Dunedin New Zealand.
  3. Department of Preventive and Social Medicine University of Otago Dunedin New Zealand.

This randomized study investigated whether self-monitoring of diet using the app MyFitnessPal or daily self-weighing increases the reported occurrence of eating disorders in adults with overweight/obesity following a weight loss programme. The authors concluded that there was no evidence that self-monitoring, including using diet apps like MyFitnessPal or daily self-weighing, increases the reported occurrence of eating disorder behaviours in adults with overweight/obesity who are trying to lose weight. View the full article for more details. 

2017

Acceptance of Using an Ecosystem of Mobile Apps for Use in Diabetes Clinic for Self-Management of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus.

Authors: Pais S1, Parry D1, Petrova K1, Rowan J.2 Stud Health Technol Inform. 2017; 245:188-192 (PMID 29295079)

  1. School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand.
  2. National Women's Health, Auckland District Health Board, Auckland, New Zealand.

In this paper, the authors develop a prototype of an ecosystem of mobile apps for use in self-management of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), to provide support for GDM self-management by sharing health and wellness data across the diabetes clinic. View the full article for more details. 


Social anxiety apps: a systematic review and assessment of app descriptors across mobile store platforms.

Authors: Alyami M1, Giri B2, Alyami H3,4, Sundram F5. Evid Based Ment Health. 2017 Aug;20(3):65-70 (PMID 28666986)

  1. School of Psychology, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand.
  2. School of Medicine, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
  3. Consult Liaison Psychiatry, Starship Hospital, Auckland District Health Board, Auckland, New Zealand.
  4. South Auckland Clinical Campus, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
  5. Department of Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

This analysis of 38 social anxiety apps identified the purpose of most apps as a combination of some of the following: psychoeducation, symptom management, treatment, self-assessment or supportive resources. The authors also conducted a systematic review of the literature and found a lack of empirical evaluation of social anxiety mobile apps and none of the apps identified in the study had evaluation of their effectiveness published. View full article for more details.


Apps to improve diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour in children and adolescents: a review of quality, features and behaviour change techniques.

Authors: Schoeppe S1, Alley S2, Rebar AL2, Hayman M2, Bray NA2, Van Lippevelde W3, Gnam JP4, Bachert P4, Direito A5, Vandelanotte C2. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2017; 14: 83 (PMID: 28646889)

  1. School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Physical Activity Research Group, Central Queensland University, Bruce Highway, Rockhampton, QLD, 4702, Australia. s.schoeppe@cqu.edu.au.
  2. School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Physical Activity Research Group, Central Queensland University, Bruce Highway, Rockhampton, QLD, 4702, Australia.
  3. Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
  4. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Sports and Sports Science, Karlsruhe, Germany.
  5. The University of Auckland, National Institute for Health Innovation, Auckland, New Zealand.

This analysis assessed the content and quality of 25 popular, commercial apps to improve diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour in children and adolescents. Using the 5-point Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS), the analysis found that overall the apps were of moderate quality and scored higher in terms of functionality. Most apps incorporated some behaviour change techniques (BCTs) and higher quality apps included more app features and BCTs. The authors concluded that future app development should identify factors that promote users’ app engagement, be tailored to specific population groups, and be informed by health behaviour theories. Read the full article for more details. 


Use of and Beliefs About Mobile Phone Apps for Diabetes Self-Management: Surveys of People in a Hospital Diabetes Clinic and Diabetes Health Professionals in New Zealand.

Authors: Boyle L1, Grainger R1, Hall RM1,2, Krebs JD1,2. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2017 Jun 30;5(6): e85(PMID 28666975)

  1. Department of Medicine, University of Otago Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.
  2. Centre for Endocrine Diabetes and Obesity Research, Capital and Coast Health, Wellington Regional Hospital, Wellington, New Zealand.

This study surveyed people with diabetes attending a secondary care clinic in NZ. 19.6% of patients reported using diabetes apps to support their diabetes self-management. App users were younger and more often had T1DM. The most used app feature was a blood glucose diary and the most desirable feature of a future app was an insulin dose calculation function in app users. The study also surveyed health professionals (HPs) attending a diabetes conference, and found that almost two-thirds of HPs responding had recommended a diabetes app to patients. Dieticians were more likely to recommend an app than others. Blood glucose and carbohydrate diaries were considered the most useful feature and HPs were most confident to recommend blood glucose diaries. HPs are the least confident recommending insulin dose calculation functions. The authors concluded that there is an urgent need for an app assessment process to give confidence in the quality and safety of diabetes management apps to people with diabetes (potential app users) and HPs (potential app prescribers). Read the full article for more details.


Have a comment or discussion point or know of any recent New Zealand studies on health apps? Drop us an email: sandra@healthnavigator.org.nz 

Credits: Editorial team. Last reviewed: 19 Feb 2018