Use of Apps to Promote Childhood Vaccination: Systematic Review
de Cock C., van Velthoven M., Milne-Ives M., Mooney M., Meinert E.
©Caroline de Cock, Michelle van Velthoven, Madison Milne-Ives, Mary Mooney, Edward Meinert. Originally published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth (http://mhealth.jmir.org), 18.05.2020. BACKGROUND: Vaccination is a critical step in reducing child mortality; however, vaccination rates have declined in many countries in recent years. This decrease has been associated with an increase in the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases. The potential for leveraging mobile platforms to promote vaccination coverage has been investigated in the development of numerous mobile apps. Although many are available for public use, there is little robust evaluation of these apps. OBJECTIVE: This systematic review aimed to assess the effectiveness of apps supporting childhood vaccinations in improving vaccination uptake, knowledge, and decision making as well as the usability and user perceptions of these apps. METHODS: PubMed, Excerpta Medica Database (EMBASE), Web of Science, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, ClinicalTrials.gov, and Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) databases were systematically searched for studies published between 2008 and 2019 that evaluated childhood vaccination apps. Two authors screened and selected studies according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data were extracted and analyzed, and the studies were assessed for risk of bias. RESULTS: A total of 28 studies evaluating 25 apps met the inclusion criteria and were included in this analysis. Overall, 9 studies assessed vaccination uptake, of which 4 reported significant benefits (P<.001 or P=.03) of the implementation of the app. Similarly, 4 studies indicated a significant (P≤.054) impact on knowledge and on vaccination decision making. Patient perceptions, usability, and acceptability were generally positive. The quality of the included studies was found to be moderate to poor, with many aspects of the methodology being unclear. CONCLUSIONS: There is little evidence to support the use of childhood vaccination apps to improve vaccination uptake, knowledge, or decision making. Further research is required to understand the dichotomous effects of vaccination-related information provision and the evaluation of these apps in larger, more robust studies. The methodology of studies must be reported more comprehensively to accurately assess the effectiveness of childhood vaccination apps and the risk of bias of studies. INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): RR2-10.2196/16929.