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Smartphone Apps for Patients With Hematologic Malignancies: Systematic Review and Evaluation of Content

HumanInsight Smartphone Apps for Patients With Hematologic Malignancies: Systematic Review and Evaluation of Content

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2022 Sep 20;10(9):e35851. doi: 10.2196/35851.


BACKGROUND: Hematological malignancies (HMs) are a heterogeneous group of cancers representing a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. The chronification of HMs and the increasing use of smartphones may lead patients to seek their current unmet needs through mobile health apps.

OBJECTIVE: The goal of this review was to identify and assess the quality of smartphone apps aimed at patients diagnosed with HMs.

METHODS: A systematic search of apps that were aimed at patients diagnosed with HMs, accessed from a Spain IP address, and were available on the iOS (App Store) and Android (Google Play) platforms was conducted in November 2021. The search terms used were "hematology," "blood cancer," "leukemia," "lymphoma," and "myeloma" apps in English, Spanish, or both languages. The identified apps were downloaded and analyzed independently by 2 reviewers. Information about general app characteristics was collected. The Mobile Application Rating Scale (MARS) was used to assess quality. The resulting parameter of the analyses, the mean score of the apps, was compared by Student t test.

RESULTS: Overall, 18 apps were identified; 7 were available on Android, 5 were available on iOS, and 6 were available on both platforms. All included apps were free; 3 were published in 2021, and among the apps published before 2021, only 6 were updated in 2021. Most (16/18, 89%) of the apps were aimed at patients with leukemia or lymphoma (16). The primary purposes of the apps were to provide general information about the condition (16/18, 89%) and monitor symptoms and clinical parameters (11/18, 61%). Health care professionals contributed to the development of 50% (9/18) of apps; 6 were owned and supported by scientific societies, and 3 were developed with the participation of health care professionals. The mean MARS score for the overall quality of the apps was 3.1 (SD 1.0). The engagement and aesthetics subscales were the lowest rated subscales, with only 44% (8/18) and 67% (12/18), respectively, of the apps obtaining acceptable scores. None of the included apps proved clinical efficacy through clinical trials in patients with HMs. Statistically significant differences were found in the MARS scores between operating systems (+1.0, P=.003) in favor of iOS apps. The participation of health care professionals in the development of the apps did not have a statistically significant impact on the MARS scores.

CONCLUSIONS: This systematic search and evaluation identified few acceptable quality mobile apps for patients with HMs. Current and future apps for patients with HMs should provide evidence-based valuable information, improve user engagement, incorporate functions according to patient preferences, and generate evidence regarding the efficacy of app use by patients with HMs.

PMID:36125860 | DOI:10.2196/35851

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