Currently submitted to: JMIR mHealth and uHealth
Date Submitted: Aug 1, 2019
Open Peer Review Period: Aug 6, 2019 - Oct 1, 2019
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A theory-based content analysis on mhealth applications for obesity
With the availability of handy mobile devices and high-speed internet, much information in the field of health, wellness and fitness is now more accessible to the public. People of almost all age groups use mhealth apps (Mobile health applications) to know about common diseases and their symptoms, medicine uses and side effects, diet plans and calculates BMI to keep them fit, etc. Obesity is considered as a growing threat to our society, especially for kids. Mobile apps related to obesity are available in large numbers. The potentials of such obesity-related mobile apps have to be investigated for better understanding of these apps, for using them in an effective way and for their influencing behavioural change on the users. There are prevalent studies on health & fitness apps in general but studies rarely focused on a particular health issue related apps.
Thus the aim of the study is to explore the potentials of obesity-related apps.
The content analysis method was adopted to analyze the contents of the top 35 obesity-related mhealth apps. A framework based on Precede-Proceed Model (PPM) was used to explore the chosen apps. The three factors of PPM model are a pre-disposing factor, enabling factor and reinforcing factor.
The analysis resulted that 26% of the apps satisfied all the variables of pre-disposing factor, only 3% of the apps satisfied all the variables of enabling factor and 6% of the apps satisfied all the variables of reinforcing factor.
Entirely only 9% of the apps taken for the study satisfied the maximum variables of PPM to influence the health behavioural change of the app users. The researchers strongly recommend health professionals to involve in the development of obesity-related mhealth apps rather than some third-party developers. Lastly, a few suggestions regarding how users can adapt an obesity-related mhealth app were provided.
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