Obesity surgery smartphone apps: a review

Daniel J Stevens, John A Jackson, Noah Howes, Justin Morgan
Obesity Surgery 2014, 24 (1): 32-6

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study are to review available smartphone applications ('apps') relating to weight loss surgery, and assess the level of medical professional involvement in their design

METHODS: Smartphone apps relating to weight loss surgery were identified by searching the three app stores: Apple's App Store, Google Play (Android) and Blackberry AppWorld. A data search was undertaken using keywords and phrases relating to weight loss surgery. Apps designed for the non-surgical treatment of obesity were excluded.

RESULTS: A total of 38 apps were identified (Google Play = 17, Apple App Store = 21, Blackberry World = 0). Ten of 38 apps were duplicated therefore 28 apps were reviewed. Mean app rating was 3.6/5 and mean app cost was £1.89. Twenty-six of 28 (92.9%) apps were designed for use by patients. Apps were categorised into the following categories: patient information (ten), patient support forums (six), patient record tools (six), weight loss clinic advertisements (four), a journal app (one) and a conference tool (one). Health professional involvement was evident in 12 of 28 (42.9%) apps.

CONCLUSIONS: This study has identified that the majority of available apps relating to weight loss surgery do not have health professional input. The establishment of a 'quality stamp' provided by an established bariatric surgical body could improve the confidence with which patients and clinicians use these new information sources. Weight loss surgery apps offer a unique opportunity to provide accurate and reliable patient information and their use as part of the informed consent process should be explored.

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