JMIR mHealth and uHealth

Mobile and tablet apps, ubiquitous and pervasive computing, wearable computing and domotics for health.


JMIR mHealth and uHealth (JMU) is now the first #mhealth journal listed in PubMed:[jour] and PubMed Central: Please follow @JMedInternetRes on Twitter for JMU content updates and sign up for email alerts by creating a profile at

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Journal Description

JMIR mhealth and uhealth (mobile and ubiquitous health) (JMU, ISSN 2291-5222) is a new spin-off journal of JMIR, the leading eHealth journal (Impact Factor 2013: 4.7). The journal focusses on health and biomedical applications in mobile and tablet computing, pervasive and ubiquitous computing, wearable computing and domotics.

JMIR mHealth and uHealth publishes even faster and has a broader scope with including papers which are more technical or more formative/developmental than what would be published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
In addition to peer-reviewing paper submissions by researchers, JMIR mHealth and uHealth offers peer-review of medical apps itself (developers can submit an app for peer-review here).

JMIR mHealth and uHealth features a rapid and thorough peer-review process, professional copyediting, professional production of PDF, XHTML, and XML proofs.

JMIR mHealth and uHealth is indexed in PubMed Central/PubMed).

JMIR mHealth and uHealth adheres to the same quality standards as JMIR and all articles published here are also cross-listed in the Table of Contents of JMIR, the worlds' leading medical journal in health sciences / health services research and health informatics.


Recent Articles:

  • Self-management with the FTA supported by health counseling.

    A Mobile Health Intervention for Self-Management and Lifestyle Change for Persons With Type 2 Diabetes, Part 2: One-Year Results From the Norwegian...


    Background: Self-management is crucial in the daily management of type 2 diabetes. It has been suggested that mHealth may be an important method for enhancing self-management when delivered in combination with health counseling. Objective: The objective of this study was to test whether the use of a mobile phone–based self-management system used for 1 year, with or without telephone health counseling by a diabetes specialist nurse for the first 4 months, could improve glycated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) level, self-management, and health-related quality of life compared with usual care. Methods: We conducted a 3-arm prospective randomized controlled trial involving 2 intervention groups and 1 control group. Eligible participants were persons with type 2 diabetes with an HbA1c level ≥7.1% (≥54.1 mmol/mol) and aged ≥18 years. Both intervention groups received the mobile phone–based self-management system Few Touch Application (FTA). The FTA consisted of a blood glucose–measuring system with automatic wireless data transfer, diet manual, physical activity registration, and management of personal goals, all recorded and operated using a diabetes diary app on the mobile phone. In addition, one intervention group received health counseling based on behavior change theory and delivered by a diabetes specialist nurse for the first 4 months after randomization. All groups received usual care by their general practitioner. The primary outcome was HbA1c level. Secondary outcomes were self-management (heiQ), health-related quality of life (SF-36), depressive symptoms (CES-D), and lifestyle changes (dietary habits and physical activity). Data were analyzed using univariate methods (t test, ANOVA) and multivariate linear and logistic regression. Results: A total of 151 participants were randomized: 51 to the FTA group, 50 to the FTA-health counseling (FTA-HC) group, and 50 to the control group. Follow-up data after 1 year were available for 120 participants (79%). HbA1c level decreased in all groups, but did not differ between groups after 1 year. The mean change in the heiQ domain skills and technique acquisition was significantly greater in the FTA-HC group after adjusting for age, gender, and education (P=.04). Other secondary outcomes did not differ between groups after 1 year. In the FTA group, 39% were substantial users of the app; 34% of the FTA-HC group were substantial users. Those aged ≥63 years used the app more than their younger counterparts did (OR 2.7; 95% CI 1.02-7.12; P=.045). Conclusions: The change in HbA1c level did not differ between groups after the 1-year intervention. Secondary outcomes did not differ between groups except for an increase in the self-management domain of skill and technique acquisition in the FTA-HC group. Older participants used the app more than the younger participants did.
  • Illustration of the health counselling and use of FTA.

    A Low-Intensity Mobile Health Intervention With and Without Health Counseling for Persons With Type 2 Diabetes, Part 1: Baseline and Short-Term Results From...


    Background: Self-management support for people with type 2 diabetes is essential in diabetes care. Thus, mobile health technology with or without low-intensity theory-based health counseling could become an important tool for promoting self-management. Objectives: The aim was to evaluate whether the introduction of technology-supported self-management using the Few Touch Application (FTA) diabetes diary with or without health counseling improved glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels, self-management, behavioral change, and health-related quality of life, and to describe the sociodemographic, clinical, and lifestyle characteristics of the participants after 4 months. Methods: A 3-armed randomized controlled trial was conducted in Norway during 2011-2013. In the 2 intervention groups, participants were given a mobile phone for 1 year, which provided access to the FTA diary, a self-help tool that recorded 5 elements: blood glucose, food habits, physical activity, personal goal setting, and a look-up system for diabetes information. One of the intervention groups was also offered theory-based health counseling with a specialist diabetes nurse by telephone for 4 months from baseline. Both intervention groups and the control group were provided usual care according to the national guidelines. Adults with type 2 diabetes and HbA1c ≥7.1% were included (N=151). There were 3 assessment points: baseline, 4 months, and 1 year. We report the short-term findings after 4 months. HbA1c was the primary outcome and the secondary outcomes were self-management (Health Education Impact Questionnaire, heiQ), behavioral change (diet and physical activity), and health-related quality of life (SF-36 questionnaire). The data were analyzed using univariate methods (ANOVA), multivariate linear, and logistic regression. Results: Data were analyzed from 124 individuals (attrition rate was 18%). The groups were well balanced at baseline. There were no differences in HbA1c between groups after 4 months, but there was a decline in all groups. There were changes in self-management measured using the health service navigation item in the heiQ, with improvements in the FTA group compared to the control group (P=.01) and in the FTA with health counseling group compared with both other groups (P=.04). This may indicate an improvement in the ability of patients to communicate health needs to their health care providers. Furthermore, the FTA group reported higher scores for skill and technique acquisition at relieving symptoms compared to the control group (P=.02). There were no significant changes in any of the domains of the SF-36. Conclusions: The primary outcome, HbA1c, did not differ between groups after 4 months. Both of the intervention groups had significantly better scores than the control group for health service navigation and the FTA group also exhibited improved skill and technique acquisition.
  • (cc) Mather et al. CC-BY-SA-2.0, please cite as (

    Nurses’ Use of Mobile Devices to Access Information in Health Care Environments in Australia: A Survey of Undergraduate Students


    Background: The growth of digital technology has created challenges for safe and appropriate use of mobile or portable devices during work-integrated learning (WIL) in health care environments. Personal and professional use of technology has outpaced the development of policy or codes of practice for guiding its use at the workplace. There is a perceived risk that portable devices may distract from provision of patient or client care if used by health professionals or students during employment or WIL. Objective: This study aimed to identify differences in behavior of undergraduate nurses in accessing information, using a portable or mobile device, when undertaking WIL compared to other non-work situations. Methods: A validated online survey was administered to students while on placement in a range of health care settings in two Australian states. Results: There were 84 respondents, with 56% (n=47) reporting access to a mobile or portable device. Differences in use of a mobile device away from, compared with during WIL, were observed for non-work related activities such as messaging (P<.001), social networking (P<.001), shopping on the Internet (P=.01), conducting personal business online (P=.01), and checking or sending non-work related texts or emails to co-workers (P=.04). Study-related activities were conducted more regularly away from the workplace and included accessing University sites for information (P=.03) and checking or sending study-related text messages or emails to friends or co-workers (P=.01). Students continued to access nursing, medical, professional development, and study-related information away from the workplace. Conclusions: Undergraduate nurses limit their access to non-work or non-patient centered information while undertaking WIL. Work-related mobile learning is being undertaken, in situ, by the next generation of nurses who expect easy access to mobile or portable devices at the workplace, to ensure safe and competent care is delivered to their patients.
  • Development of Web-based mobile phone using online app builder.

    Application of Low-Cost Methodologies for Mobile Phone App Development


    Background: The usage of mobile phones and mobile phone apps in the recent decade has indeed become more prevalent. Previous research has highlighted a method of using just the Internet browser and a text editor to create an app, but this does not eliminate the challenges faced by clinicians. More recently, two methodologies of app development have been shared, but there has not been any disclosures pertaining to the costs involved. In addition, limitations such as the distribution and dissemination of the apps have not been addressed. Objective: The aims of this research article are to: (1) highlight a low-cost methodology that clinicians without technical knowledge could use to develop educational apps; (2) clarify the respective costs involved in the process of development; (3) illustrate how limitations pertaining to dissemination could be addressed; and (4) to report initial utilization data of the apps and to share initial users’ self-rated perception of the apps. Methods: In this study, we will present two techniques of how to create a mobile app using two of the well-established online mobile app building websites. The costs of development are specified and the methodology of dissemination of the apps will be shared. The application of the low-cost methodologies in the creation of the “Mastering Psychiatry” app for undergraduates and “Déjà vu” app for postgraduates will be discussed. A questionnaire survey has been administered to undergraduate students collating their perceptions towards the app. Results: For the Mastering Psychiatry app, a cumulative total of 722 users have used the mobile app since inception, based on our analytics. For the Déjà vu app, there has been a cumulative total of 154 downloads since inception. The utilization data demonstrated the receptiveness towards these apps, and this is reinforced by the positive perceptions undergraduate students (n=185) had towards the low-cost self-developed apps. Conclusions: This is one of the few studies that have demonstrated the low-cost methodologies of app development; as well as student and trainee receptivity toward self-created Web-based mobile phone apps. The results obtained have demonstrated that these Web-based low-cost apps are applicable in the real life, and suggest that the methodologies shared in this research paper might be of benefit for other specialities and disciplines.
  • Treatment advice screen of the app in English and Telugu (local language).

    SMARTHealth India: Development and Field Evaluation of a Mobile Clinical Decision Support System for Cardiovascular Diseases in Rural India


    Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the major cause of premature death and disability in India and yet few people at risk of CVD are able to access best practice health care. Mobile health (mHealth) is a promising solution, but very few mHealth interventions have been subjected to robust evaluation in India. Objective: The objectives were to develop a multifaceted, mobile clinical decision support system (CDSS) for CVD management and evaluate it for use by public nonphysician health care workers (NPHWs) and physicians in a rural Indian setting. Methods: Plain language clinical rules were developed based on standard guidelines and programmed into a computer tablet app. The algorithm was validated and field-tested in 11 villages in Andhra Pradesh, involving 11 NPHWs and 3 primary health center (PHC) physicians. A mixed method evaluation was conducted comprising clinical and survey data and in-depth patient and staff interviews to understand barriers and enablers to the use of the system. Then this was thematically analyzed using NVivo 10. Results: During validation of the algorithm, there was an initial agreement for 70% of the 42 calculated variables between the CDSS and SPSS software outputs. Discrepancies were identified and amendments were made until perfect agreement was achieved. During field testing, NPHWs and PHC physicians used the CDSS to screen 227 and 65 adults, respectively. The NPHWs identified 39% (88/227) of patients for referral with 78% (69/88) of these having a definite indication for blood pressure (BP)-lowering medication. However, only 35% (24/69) attended a clinic within 1 month of referral, with 42% (10/24) of these reporting continuing medications at 3-month follow-up. Physicians identified and recommended 17% (11/65) of patients for BP-lowering medications. Qualitative interviews identified 3 interrelated interview themes: (1) the CDSS had potential to change prevailing health care models, (2) task-shifting to NPHWs was the central driver of change, and (3) despite high acceptability by end users, actual transformation was substantially limited by system-level barriers such as patient access to doctors and medicines. Conclusions: A tablet-based CDSS implemented within primary health care systems has the potential to help improve CVD outcomes in India. However, system-level barriers to accessing medical care limit its full impact. These barriers need to be actively addressed for clinical innovations to be successful. Trial Registration: Clinical Trials Registry of India: CTRI/2013/06/003753; (Archived by WebCite at
  • Home screen healthy food basket iPad application.

    Development and Evaluation of an iPad App for Measuring the Cost of a Nutritious Diet


    Background: Monitoring food costs informs governments of the affordability of healthy diets. Many countries have adopted a standardized healthy food basket. The Victorian Healthy Food Basket contains 44 food items necessary to meet the nutritional requirements of four different Australian family types for a fortnight. Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the development of a new iPad app as core to the implementation of the Victorian Healthy Food Basket. The app significantly automates the data collection. We evaluate if the new technology enhanced the quality and efficacy of the research. Methods: Time taken for data collection and entry was recorded. Semi-structured evaluative interviews were conducted with five field workers during the pilot of the iPad app. Field workers were familiar with previous manual data collection methods. Qualitative process evaluation data was summarized against key evaluation questions. Results: Field workers reported that using the iPad for data collection resulted in increased data accuracy, time savings, and efficient data management, and was preferred over manual collection. Conclusions: Portable digital devices may be considered to improve and extend data collection in the field of food cost monitoring.
  • Cropped Figure 6.

    Enhancing Knowledge Flow in a Health Care Context: A Mobile Computing Approach


    Background: Advances in mobile computing and wireless communication have allowed people to interact and exchange knowledge almost anywhere. These technologies support Medicine 2.0, where the health knowledge flows among all involved people (eg, patients, caregivers, doctors, and patients’ relatives). Objective: Our paper proposes a knowledge-sharing environment that takes advantage of mobile computing and contextual information to support knowledge sharing among participants within a health care community (ie, from patients to health professionals). This software environment enables knowledge exchange using peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile networks based on users’ profiles, and it facilitates face-to-face interactions among people with similar health interests, needs, or goals. Methods: First, we reviewed and analyzed relevant scientific articles and software apps to determine the current state of knowledge flow within health care. Although no proposal was capable of addressing every aspect in the Medicine 2.0 paradigm, a list of requirements was compiled. Using this requirement list and our previous works, a knowledge-sharing environment was created integrating Mobile Exchange of Knowledge (MEK) and the Easy to Deploy Indoor Positioning System (EDIPS), and a twofold qualitative evaluation was performed. Second, we analyzed the efficiency and reliability of the knowledge that the integrated MEK-EDIPS tool provided to users according to their interest topics, and then performed a proof of concept with health professionals to determine the feasibility and usefulness of using this solution in a real-world scenario. Results: . Using MEK, we reached 100% precision and 80% recall in the exchange of files within the peer-to-peer network. The mechanism that facilitated face-to-face interactions was evaluated by the difference between the location indicated by the EDIPS tool and the actual location of the people involved in the knowledge exchange. The average distance error was <6.28 m for an indoor environment. The usability and usefulness of this tool was assessed by questioning a sample of 18 health professionals: 94% (17/18) agreed the integrated MEK-EDIPS tool provides greater interaction among all the participants (eg, patients, caregivers, doctors, and patients’ relatives), most considered it extremely important in the health scenario, 72% (13/18) believed it could increase the knowledge flow in a health environment, and 67% (12/18) recommend it or would like to recommend its use. Conclusions: The integrated MEK-EDIPS tool can provide more services than any other software tool analyzed in this paper. The proposed integrated MEK-EDIPS tool seems to be the best alternative for supporting health knowledge flow within the Medicine 2.0 paradigm.
  • iPod Touch 4G.

    Accuracy, Consistency, and Reproducibility of the Triaxial Accelerometer in the iPod Touch: A Pilot Study


    Background: The use of a mobile consumer communicative device as a motion analysis tool for patients has been researched and documented previously, examining the triaxial accelerometer embedded in such devices. However, there have been few reports in the literature testing the sensitivity of an embedded triaxial accelerometer. Objective: Our goal in this study was to test the accuracy, consistency, and reproducibility of the triaxial accelerometer in the iPod Touch. Methods: In this pilot study, we subjected the triaxial accelerometer in the iPod Touch to a free fall from a height of 100 cm in order to test its accuracy, consistency, and reproducibility under dynamic conditions. Results: The resultant vectorial sum acceleration was mean 0.999 g (standard gravity; SD 1.51%; 95% CI 0.99-1.01), indicating very high accuracy and sensitivity under dynamic conditions. Conclusions: Our results highlighted the reproducibility of the capability of the triaxial accelerometer in the iPod Touch to capture data accurately and consistently. Thus, the device has huge potential as a motion analysis tool for measuring gait and studying balance and mobility in patients before and after surgery.
  • Cropped Figure 2.

    Enabling Psychiatrists to be Mobile Phone App Developers: Insights Into App Development Methodologies


    Background: The use of mobile phones, and specifically smartphones, in the last decade has become more and more prevalent. The latest mobile phones are equipped with comprehensive features that can be used in health care, such as providing rapid access to up-to-date evidence-based information, provision of instant communications, and improvements in organization. The estimated number of health care apps for mobile phones is increasing tremendously, but previous research has highlighted the lack of critical appraisal of new apps. This lack of appraisal of apps has largely been due to the lack of clinicians with technical knowledge of how to create an evidence-based app. Objective: We discuss two freely available methodologies for developing Web-based mobile phone apps: a website builder and an app builder. With these, users can program not just a Web-based app, but also integrate multimedia features within their app, without needing to know any programming language. Methods: We present techniques for creating a mobile Web-based app using two well-established online mobile app websites. We illustrate how to integrate text-based content within the app, as well as integration of interactive videos and rich site summary (RSS) feed information. We will also briefly discuss how to integrate a simple questionnaire survey into the mobile-based app. A questionnaire survey was administered to students to collate their perceptions towards the app. Results: These two methodologies for developing apps have been used to convert an online electronic psychiatry textbook into two Web-based mobile phone apps for medical students rotating through psychiatry in Singapore. Since the inception of our mobile Web-based app, a total of 21,991 unique users have used the mobile app and online portal provided by WordPress, and another 717 users have accessed the app via a Web-based link. The user perspective survey results (n=185) showed that a high proportion of students valued the textbook and objective structured clinical examination videos featured in the app. A high proportion of students concurred that a self-designed mobile phone app would be helpful for psychiatry education. Conclusions: These methodologies can enable busy clinicians to develop simple mobile Web-based apps for academic, educational, and research purposes, without any prior knowledge of programming. This will be beneficial for both clinicians and users at large, as there will then be more evidence-based mobile phone apps, or at least apps that have been appraised by a clinician.
  • Illustrative feature image.

    Parent-Targeted Mobile Phone Intervention to Increase Physical Activity in Sedentary Children: Randomized Pilot Trial


    Background: Low levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity are associated with adverse health consequences. Objective: The intent of the study was to determine the feasibility and efficacy of a 12-week physical activity promotion program targeting children, which was delivered to parents through mobile phones. Methods: Potential participants were recruited through advertisements placed in the newspaper, local hospitals and schools, and an email listserv. Sedentary children aged 6-10 years were randomly assigned to a minimal (MIG) or intensive (IIG) intervention group. Parents in the MIG were given a goal to increase (within 1 month) and maintain their child’s activity at 6000 pedometer steps/day above their baseline levels and to monitor their child’s steps daily. Parents in the IIG were given the same steps/day and monitoring goals, in addition to text messages and articles containing additional behavioral strategies (based on the Social Cognitive Theory) designed to promote their child’s physical activity. The intervention components were delivered via mobile phone. Anthropometrics, body composition, and questionnaires were administered in a clinic. Children wore a New Lifestyles pedometer (NL-1000) each day throughout the intervention and parents were to monitor their child’s step counts daily. Results: Out of 59 children who screened for the study, a total of 27 children (mean age 8.7, SD 1.4 years; 56%, 15/27 female; 59%, 16/27 African American) were enrolled and completed the study. Overall, 97.90% (2220/2268; 98.20%, 1072/1092 for MIG; 97.60%, 1148/1176 for IIG) of expected step data were successfully entered by the parent or study coordinator. Parents in the MIG and IIG were sent approximately 7 and 13 text messages per week, respectively, averaged over the course of the study. IIG parents accessed an average of 6.1 (SD 4.4) articles over the course of the intervention and accessed a fewer number of articles in the last month compared to the first 2 months of the study (P=.002). Children in both the MIG and IIG significantly increased their physical activity, averaged over 12 weeks, by 1427.6 (SD 583.0; P=.02) and 2832.8 (SD 604.9; P<.001) steps/day above baseline, respectively. The between group difference was not statistically significant (P=.10; effect size=.40), nor was the group by time interaction (P=.57). Regardless of group assignment, children who significantly increased their physical activity reported greater increases in physical activity enjoyment (P=.003). The number of behavioral articles accessed by IIG parents was significantly correlated with change in children’s steps/day (r=.575, P=.04). Changes in children’s steps/day were unrelated to changes in their body composition, mood, and food intake. Conclusions: Parent-targeted mobile phone interventions are feasible, yet more intense interventions may be needed to support parents’ efforts to increase their children’s physical activity to levels that approximate national recommendations. Trial Registration: NCT01551108; (Archived by WebCite at
  • Consolidated texts, anonymized and emailed.

    Texting Teens in Transition: The Use of Text Messages in Clinical Intervention Research


    Background: The rapidly growing population of young adults living with congenital heart disease (CHD), currently challenging ill-prepared cardiac care systems, presents a novel population in which to consider the use of mHealth. This methodological study was part of a larger study that tested the effectiveness of a clinic-based nursing intervention to prepare teens for transfer from pediatric to adult cardiology care. The intervention included creation of a MyHealth Passport and subsequently SMS (short message service) text messages between the intervention nurse and study participant. Objective: Our aim was to determine (1) the preference of teens with CHD to be contacted via text message following the nursing intervention, (2) the effectiveness of texting to collect data regarding the use of MyHealth Passport after participation in the intervention, (3) the nature of the texting interaction, and (4) the risks and benefits of texting. Methods: Participants were recruited through the intervention study (n=24) by either choosing to receive information from the study coordinator through text message, or texting a question to the study nurses. Inclusion criteria were age 15-17 years, diagnosed with moderate or complex heart disease, and currently being followed by the Division of Cardiology at Stollery Children’s Hospital. Exclusion criteria were heart transplantation and/or less than a 6th grade reading and comprehension ability. Text message transcripts were analyzed by qualitative inductive content analysis. Results: Two-thirds of teens (16/24, 67%) chose text messaging as their preferred contact, making them eligible for the study. Texting was effective in collecting information regarding the MyHealth Passport; all but one teen had their MyHealth Passport on them, and many reported carrying it with them wherever they went. All teens reported showing their MyHealth Passport to at least one person. Seven themes were identified in the texting transcripts: mixing formal and informal language, the passive teen, interaction with health care providers, texting teens in transition, texting as a mechanism to initiate other forms of communication, affirmation, and the nurse as an educator. Benefits of texting were identified as flexibility, ability to respond over time, information presented in byte-sized amounts, and information directly related to patient questions. Risks of texting were identified as the possibility that interactions may not be in-depth, distraction of teen and researcher, and invasiveness. Conclusions: Text messaging was useful in collecting data regarding the use of the MyHealth Passport. Text messaging resulted in conversations with the teens that were sometimes in-depth and meaningful, especially when combined with other communication modalities. Using text messaging in a manner resulting in full conversations with the patients requires more study and may benefit from protocols and the use of solid theoretical foundations that would standardize the interaction so that more conclusions could be drawn.
  • Illustrative photo of intervention. Photo taken by an author of the article.

    Qualitative Feedback From a Text Messaging Intervention for Depression: Benefits, Drawbacks, and Cultural Differences


    Background: Mobile health interventions are often standardized and assumed to work the same for all users; however, we may be missing cultural differences in the experiences of interventions that may impact how and if an intervention is effective. Objective: The objective of the study was to assess qualitative feedback from participants to determine if there were differences between Spanish speakers and English speakers. Daily text messages were sent to patients as an adjunct to group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for depression. Methods: Messages inquired about mood and about specific themes (thoughts, activities, social interactions) of a manualized group CBT intervention. There were thirty-nine patients who participated in the text messaging pilot study. The average age of the participants was 53 years (SD 10.4; range of 23-72). Results: Qualitative feedback from Spanish speakers highlighted feelings of social support, whereas English speakers noted increased introspection and self-awareness of their mood state. Conclusions: These cultural differences should be explored further, as they may impact the effect of supportive mobile health interventions. Trial Registration: Trial Registration: NCT01083628; (Archived by WebCite at

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