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Behavior Change Effectiveness Using Nutrition Apps in People With Chronic Diseases: Scoping Review

HumanInsight Behavior Change Effectiveness Using Nutrition Apps in People With Chronic Diseases: Scoping Review

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2023 Jan 13;11:e41235. doi: 10.2196/41235.


BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes mellitus, and obesity are common chronic diseases, and their prevalence is reaching an epidemic level worldwide. As the impact of chronic diseases continues to increase, finding strategies to improve care, access to care, and patient empowerment becomes increasingly essential. Health care providers use mobile health (mHealth) to access clinical information, collaborate with care teams, communicate over long distances with patients, and facilitate real-time monitoring and interventions. However, these apps focus on improving general health care concerns, with limited apps focusing on specific chronic diseases and the nutrition involved in the disease state. Hence, available evidence on the effectiveness of mHealth apps toward behavior change to improve chronic disease outcomes is limited.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this scoping review was to provide an overview of behavior change effectiveness using mHealth nutrition interventions in people with chronic diseases (ie, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, cancer, and obesity). We further evaluated the behavior change techniques and theories or models used for behavior change, if any.

METHODS: A scoping review was conducted through a systematic literature search in the MEDLINE, EBSCO, PubMed, ScienceDirect, and Scopus databases. Studies were excluded from the review if they did not involve an app or nutrition intervention, were written in a language other than English, were duplicates from other database searches, or were literature reviews. Following the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) 2020 guidelines, the systematic review process included 4 steps: identification of records through the database search, screening of duplicate and excluded records, eligibility assessment of full-text records, and final analysis of included records.

RESULTS: In total, 46 studies comprising 256,430 patients were included. There was diversity in the chronic disease state, study design, number of participants, in-app features, behavior change techniques, and behavior models used in the studies. In addition, our review found that less than half (19/46, 41%) of the studies based their nutrition apps on a behavioral theory or its constructs. Of the 46 studies, 11 (24%) measured maintenance of health behavior change, of which 7 (64%) sustained behavior change for approximately 6 to 12 months and 4 (36%) showed a decline in behavior change or discontinued app use.

CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that mHealth apps involving nutrition can significantly improve health outcomes in people with chronic diseases. Tailoring nutrition apps to specific populations is recommended for effective behavior change and improvement of health outcomes. In addition, some studies (7/46, 15%) showed sustained health behavior change, and some (4/46, 9%) showed a decline in the use of nutrition apps. These results indicate a need for further investigation on the sustainability of the health behavior change effectiveness of disease-specific nutrition apps.

PMID:36637888 | DOI:10.2196/41235

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