The evolution of mobile apps for asthma: an updated systematic assessment of content and tools.

North West London
Published Date: 23 Mar 2015

BACKGROUND:

Interest in mobile apps that support long-term conditions such as asthma is matched by recognition of the importance of the quality and safety of apps intended for patient use. We assessed how changes over a 2-year period affected the clinical suitability of apps providing self-management information and tools for people with asthma by updating a review first performed in 2011.

METHODS:

Systematic content assessment of all apps for iOS and Android examining the comprehensiveness of asthma information, consistency with the evidence base for asthma self-management and adherence to best practice principles for trustworthy content, comparing the quality of apps available in 2011 to those released since.

RESULTS:

Between 2011 and 2013, numbers of asthma apps more than doubled from 93 to 191, despite withdrawal of 25% (n = 23/93) of existing apps. Newer apps were no more likely than those available in 2011 to include comprehensive information, such as the use of action plans, or offer guidance consistent with evidence; 13% (n = 19/147) of all apps, and 39% (n = 9/23) of those intended to manage acute asthma, recommended self-care procedures unsupported by evidence. Despite increases in the numbers of apps targeting specific skills, such as acute asthma management (n = 12 to 23) and inhaler technique (from n = 2 to 12), the proportion consistent with guidelines (17%, n = 4/23) and inhaler instructions (25%, n = 3/12), respectively, was low, and most apps provided only either basic information about asthma (50%, n = 75/147) or simple diary functions (24%, n = 36/147).

Contact 
Christopher Huckvale
c.huckvale@imperial.ac.uk