Conducting a systematic review and evaluation of commercially available mobile applications (apps) on a health-related topic: the TECH approach and a step-by-step methodological guide

Research output: Working paperPreprint

Abstract

Objectives: To provide an overview of the methodological considerations for conducting commercial smartphone health app reviews (mHealth reviews), with the aim of systematising the process and supporting high-quality evaluations of mHealth apps.
Design: Synthesis of our research team’s experiences of conducting and publishing various reviews of mHealth apps and hand-searching the top medical informatics journals (e.g., The Lancet Digital Health, npj Digital Medicine, Journal of Biomedical Informatics, and the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association) over the last five years (2018-2022) to identify other app reviews to contribute to the discussion of this method and supporting framework for developing a research (review) question and determining the eligibility criteria.
Results: We present seven steps to support rigour in conducting app reviews in health: 1) writing a research question, 2) conducting scoping searches and developing the protocol, 3) determining the eligibility criteria using the TECH framework, 4) conducting the final search and screening of health apps, 5) data extraction, 6) quality, functionality, and other assessments and 7) analysis and synthesis of findings. We introduce the novel TECH approach to developing review questions and the eligibility criteria, which considers the Target user, Evaluation focus, Connectedness, and the Health domain. Patient and public involvement and engagement opportunities are acknowledged, including co-developing the protocol and undertaking quality or usability assessments.
Conclusion: Commercial mHealth app reviews can provide important insights into the health app market, including the availability of apps and their quality and functionality. We have outlined seven key steps for conducting rigorous health app reviews in addition to the TECH acronym, which can support researchers in writing research questions and determining the eligibility criteria. Future work will include a collaborative effort to develop reporting guidelines and a quality appraisal tool to ensure transparency and quality in systematic app reviews.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherResearch Square
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2023

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Conducting a systematic review and evaluation of commercially available mobile applications (apps) on a health-related topic: the TECH approach and a step-by-step methodological guide'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this