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Currently submitted to: JMIR Formative Research

Date Submitted: Jul 27, 2019
Open Peer Review Period: Jul 30, 2019 - Sep 24, 2019
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Feasibility of applying a mixed quantitative and qualitative approach to the design of a smartphone application for people with chronic low back pain

  • Maxime Grolier; 
  • Alexandre Arefyev; 
  • Bruno Pereira; 
  • Isabel Tavares Figueiredo; 
  • Laurent Gerbaud; 
  • Emmanuel Coudeyre; 



Non-specific low back pain (NSLBP) is a major global public health issue leading to considerable economic cost. It is primarily responsible for pain, disability and sickness absence. Patients should be proactive to manage their pain and disability according to LBP guidelines. Mobile device technology has the potential to involve people with chronic NSLBP in their rehabilitation by modifying their behaviour, improving their adherence to treatment and giving them access to information.


To assess the feasibility of applying a mixed quantitative and qualitative approach to the design of a smartphone application (app) for people with chronic NSLBP.


We used a user-centered design approach involving people with chronic NSLBP and healthcare professionals (HCPs). We used a three-step methodology: step I, developing consensus on the features, content, and design of the app; step II, developing a user interface; and step III, usability testing of the app and assessing users’ experience. Transcripts of interviews of users were analyzed by qualitative content analysis.


A total of 18 people (median age 45 years, range 23–53) with chronic NSLBP, and 7 HCPs (median age 29.5 years, range 25–55) involved in NSLBP management were interviewed. The global experience of using the smartphone eLombactif app was initially assessed. Then, with close-ended questions we evaluated users' judgement on the content, its presentation and navigation. Most items received positive feedback from study participants. Finally, we asked for suggestions grouped into 2 categories: "application content and functionality" and "content presentation" from participants regarding the use and development of the app analyzed by a qualitative methodology to improve the app in the future.


This study confirms the feasibility of using a mixed quantitative and qualitative approach to design a self-management tool for people with chronic NSLBP. This methodology allows for deepening the knowledge of the needs and expectations of potential users by measuring user experience. The results of this study can serve as a reference for future adjustments and improvements to this app.


Please cite as:

Grolier M, Arefyev A, Pereira B, Tavares Figueiredo I, Gerbaud L, Coudeyre E

Feasibility of applying a mixed quantitative and qualitative approach to the design of a smartphone application for people with chronic low back pain

JMIR Preprints. 27/07/2019:15621

DOI: 10.2196/preprints.15621


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