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©Madison Milne-Ives, Ching Lam, Michelle Helena Van Velthoven, Edward Meinert. Background: The popularity and ubiquity of mobile apps have rapidly expanded in the past decade. With a growing focus on patient interaction with health management, mobile apps are increasingly used to monitor health and deliver behavioral interventions. The considerable variation in these mobile health apps, from their target patient group to their health behavior, and their behavioral change strategy, has resulted in a large but incohesive body of literature. Objective: The purpose of this protocol is to provide an overview of the current landscape, theories behind, and effectiveness of mobile apps for health behavior change. Methods: The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Protocols will be used to structure this protocol. The focus of the systematic review is guided by a population, intervention, comparator, and outcome framework. A systematic search of Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Web of Science will be conducted. Two authors will independently screen the titles and abstracts of identified references and select studies according to the eligibility criteria. Any discrepancies will then be discussed and resolved. One reviewer will extract data into a standardized form, which will be validated by a second reviewer. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration Risk of Bias tool, and a descriptive analysis will summarize the effectiveness of all the apps. Results: As of November 2019, the systematic review has been completed and is in peer review for publication. Conclusions: This systematic review will summarize the current mobile app technologies and their effectiveness, usability, and coherence with behavior change theory. It will identify areas of improvement (where there is no evidence of efficacy) and help inform the development of more useful and engaging mobile health apps.

Original publication




Journal article


JMIR Research Protocols

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