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Framework to assess the quality of mHealth apps: a mixed-method international case study protocol

HumanInsight Framework to assess the quality of mHealth apps: a mixed-method international case study protocol

BMJ Open. 2022 Oct 28;12(10):e062909. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-062909.


INTRODUCTION: Healthcare professionals (HCPs) often recommend their patients to use a specific mHealth app as part of health promotion, disease prevention and patient self-management. There has been a significant growth in the number of HCPs downloading and using mobile health (mHealth) apps. Most mHealth apps that are available in app stores employ a 'star rating' system. This is based on user feedback on an app, but is highly subjective. Thus, the identification of quality mHealth apps which are deemed fit for purpose can be a difficult task for HCPs. Currently, there is no unified, validated standard guidelines for assessment of mHealth apps for patient safety, which can be used by HCPs. The Modified Enlight Suite (MES) is a quality assessment framework designed to provide a means for HCPs to evaluate mHealth apps before they are recommended to patients. MES was adapted from the original Enlight Suite for international use through a Delphi method, followed by preliminary validation process among a population predominantly consisting of medical students. This study aims to evaluate the applicability and validity of the MES, by HCPs, in low, middle and high income country settings.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: MES will be evaluated through a mixed-method study, consisting of qualitative (focus group) and quantitative (survey instruments) research, in three target countries: Malaŵi (low income), South Africa (middle income) and Ireland (high income). The focus groups will be conducted through Microsoft Teams (Microsoft, Redmond, Washington, USA) and surveys will be conducted online using Qualtrics (Qualtrics International, Seattle, Washington, USA). Participants will be recruited through the help of national representatives in Malawi (Mzuzu University), South Africa (University of Fort Hare) and Ireland (University College Cork) by email invitation. Data analysis for the focus group will be by the means of thematic analysis. Data analysis for the survey will use descriptive statistics and use Cronbach alpha as an indicator of internal consistency of the MES. The construct validity of the mHealth app will be assessed by computing the confirmatory factor analysis using Amos.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The study has received ethical approval from the Social Research Ethics Committee (SREC) SREC/SOM/03092021/1 at University College Cork, Ireland, Malaŵi Research Ethics Committee (MREC), Malaŵi MZUNIREC/DOR/21/59 and Inter-Faculty Research Ethics Committee (IFREC) of University of Fort Hare (REC-2 70 710-028-RA). The results of the study will be disseminated through the internet, peer-reviewed journals and conference presentations.

PMID:36307160 | DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2022-062909

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