Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mobile health apps lack behavior-change techniques

Date:
May 6, 2014
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Behavior-change techniques are not well represented in the marketing materials for top-rated physical-activity apps, according to a team of researchers. They also found that two types of physical-activity apps are available on the market -- those that focus on educating users on how to perform different exercises and those that focus on supporting users' motivation for physical activity.

Behavior-change techniques are not well represented in the marketing materials for top-rated physical-activity apps, according to a team of Penn State researchers.

Related Articles


They also found that two types of physical-activity apps are available on the market -- those that focus on educating users on how to perform different exercises and those that focus on supporting users' motivation for physical activity.

"The app marketplace is largely unregulated and users make decisions based on developers' descriptions of apps," said David Conroy, professor of kinesiology. "Our results suggest that developers have not incorporated many behavior-change techniques to date, and there may be opportunities to integrate behavioral science to make apps that are more effective for helping people who seek to change their behavior and become more active."

The researchers identified the top-ranked health and fitness apps as of Aug. 28, 2013, on the two major online marketplaces -- Apple iTunes and Google Play. Specifically, they examined apps from the top 50 paid and top 50 free lists in the "health and fitness" category for each operating system, resulting in four lists totaling 200 apps. Next, they located descriptions of each app online, reviewed the descriptions and had them coded by two trained coders using the Coventry, Aberdeen and London-Refined taxonomy -- a list of common behavior-change techniques used in interventions and developed to give people a structure for comparing what is in one intervention versus another.

The researchers found that most of the descriptions of the apps they examined incorporated fewer than four behavior change techniques. The most common techniques involved providing instruction on how to perform exercises, feedback on performance, goal-setting assistance and planning social support or change. They report their results today (May 6) in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Further analysis revealed the existence of two types of apps, educational and motivational, based on their configurations of behavior-change techniques.

"Our results suggest that there are far fewer behavior-change techniques described in apps than in interventions, which are delivered in-person to help people increase their physical activity," Conroy said. "However, this does not necessarily mean that apps are less effective, because it is possible that a number of techniques included in the in-person intervention packages are inert. We suggest that users should consider their needs carefully when selecting a physical-activity app."

The team is completing a detailed inspection of apps to see if developers incorporated techniques that were not described in their marketing materials. The researchers also are collaborating to evaluate ways of making mobile interventions more effective by integrating advances from engineering and psychology to optimize these interventions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. The original article was written by Sara LaJeunesse. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Mobile health apps lack behavior-change techniques." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140506120202.htm>.
Penn State. (2014, May 6). Mobile health apps lack behavior-change techniques. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140506120202.htm
Penn State. "Mobile health apps lack behavior-change techniques." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140506120202.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Samsung's Incredible Shrinking Smartphone Profits

Samsung's Incredible Shrinking Smartphone Profits

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 30, 2014) The world's top mobile maker is under severe pressure, delivering a 60 percent drop in Q3 profit as its handset business struggles. Turning it around may not prove easy, says Reuters' Jon Gordon. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ban On Wearable Cameras In Movie Theaters Surprises No One

Ban On Wearable Cameras In Movie Theaters Surprises No One

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) The Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Theatre Owners now prohibit wearable cameras such as Google Glass. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Launches Fitness Band After Accidental Reveal

Microsoft Launches Fitness Band After Accidental Reveal

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) Microsoft accidentally revealed its upcoming fitness band on Wednesday, so the company went ahead and announced it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins