Patient-facing genetic and genomic mobile apps in the UK: a systematic review of content, functionality, and quality

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Close relative (consanguineous) marriage is widely practised globally, and it increases the risk of genetic disorders. Mobile apps may increase awareness and education regarding the associated risks in a sensitive, engaging, and accessible manner. This systematic review of patient-facing genetic/genomic mobile apps explores content, function, and quality. We searched the NHS Apps Library and the UK Google Play and Apple App stores for patient-facing genomic/genetic smartphone apps. Descriptive information and information on content was extracted and summarized. Readability was examined using the Flesch-Kincaid metrics. Two raters assessed each app, using the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) and the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics functionality score. A total of 754 apps were identified, of which 22 met the eligibility criteria. All apps intended to inform/educate users, while 32% analyzed genetic data, and 18% helped to diagnose genetic conditions. Most (68%) were clearly about genetics, but only 14% were affiliated with a medical/health body or charity, and only 36% had a privacy strategy. Mean reading scores were 35 (of 100), with the average reading age being equivalent to US grade 12 (UK year 13). On average, apps had 3.3 of the 11 IMS functionality criteria. The mean MARS quality score was 3.2 ± 0.7. Half met the minimum acceptability score (3 of 5). None had been formally evaluated. It was evident that there are few high-quality genomic/genetic patient-facing apps available in the UK. This demonstrates a need for an accessible, culturally sensitive, evidence-based app to improve genetic literacy within patient populations and specific communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-182
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of community genetics
Issue number2
Early online date19 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • App review
  • Genes
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Smartphone app


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