Usability and Engagement Testing of mHealth Apps in Paediatric Obesity: A Narrative Review of Current Literature
N. Arthurs; L. Tully; G. O'Malley; S. Browne
Year of publication
Int J Environ Res Public Health
Mobile health (mHealth) platforms have become increasingly popular for delivering health interventions in recent years and particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Childhood obesity treatment is an area where mHealth interventions may be useful due to the multidisciplinary nature of interventions and the need for long-term care. Many mHealth apps targeting youth exist but the evidence base underpinning the methods for assessing technical usability, user engagement and user satisfaction of such apps with target end-users or among clinical populations is unclear, including for those aimed at paediatric overweight and obesity management. This review aims to examine the current literature and provide an overview of the scientific methods employed to test usability and engagement with mHealth apps in children and adolescents with obesity. A narrative literature review was undertaken following a systematic search. Four academic databases were searched. Inclusion criteria were studies describing the usability of mHealth interventions for childhood obesity treatment. Following the application of inclusion and exclusion criteria, fifty-nine articles were included for full-text review, and seven studies met the criteria for usability and engagement in a clinical paediatric population with obesity. Six apps were tested for usability and one for engagement in childhood obesity treatment. Sample sizes ranged from 6-1120 participants. The included studies reported several heterogenous measurement instruments, data collection approaches, and outcomes. Recommendations for future research include the standardization and validation of instruments to measure usability and engagement within mHealth studies in this population.