Content, behavior change techniques and quality of pregnancy apps in Spain: systematic search of app stores


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JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2021 17; 9 (11): e27995. doi: 10.2196 / 27995.


BACKGROUND: Women view information in mobile apps (apps) during pregnancy, and even obstetrics specialists point out that pregnancy is a great time to use apps as sources of consultation. However, the high number of apps designed for pregnancy requires careful evaluation to determine their suitability before recommendation.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to identify the applications available in Spanish that can be recommended based on their content, behavior change techniques (CBT) and their quality as a complementary tool during pregnancy.

METHODS: A systematic search of app stores to identify apps was conducted in the Apple App Store and Google Play with the term “pregnancy”. Applications that meet the following criteria were chosen: pregnancy-related content, free and available in Spanish. An application was excluded if it was classified as game or entertainment and therefore has no educational or health purpose and if it did not target the population studied. The selected applications were uploaded and their quality was rated using the Mobile Applications Rating Scale (MARS), with included BCTs being rated using BCT version 1 taxonomy and its content.

RESULTS: A total of 457 applications were identified, of which 25 were downloaded for evaluation (5.6%). The median for objective and subjective quality was 2.94 (IQR 2.71-3.46) and 1.75 (IQR 1.25-2.25), respectively. Regarding content, the median of subjects included in the apps was 23 (IQR 16-23), with weight gain, nutrition, fetal development and physical activity being the most common. The median number of BCTs was 12 (IQR 0.5-3.5). The most frequently identified BCTs in applications were “Self-monitoring of results”, followed by “Goal behavior” and “Instructions”. Statistically significant correlations were observed between objective quality and content (ρ = 0.624; P = 0.001), subjective quality and content (ρ = 0.638; P = 0.001), objective quality and BCT (ρ = 0.672 ; P

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that only a small percentage of free pregnancy apps available in Spanish should be recommended. The apps with the best MARS scores were the ones that covered a greater number of topics and included a greater number of BCTs. Those with the best content and quality, and a greater number of BCTs included might be recommended by healthcare professionals.

PMID:34787587 | DO I:10.2196 / 27995

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