Mobile Phone and Tablet Apps to Support Young People's Management of Their Physical Long-Term Conditions: A Systematic Review Protocol

Rabiya Majeed-Ariss, Andrew G Hall, Janet McDonagh, Deborah Fallon, Veronica Swallow
JMIR Research Protocols 2015, 4 (2): e40

BACKGROUND: The prevalence of long-term or chronic conditions that limit activity and reduce quality of life in young people aged 10-24 years is rising. This group has distinct health care needs and requires tailored support strategies to facilitate increasing personal responsibility for the management of their condition wherever possible, as they mature. Mobile phone and tablet mobile technologies featuring software program apps are already well used by young people for social networking or gaming. They have also been utilized in health care to support personal condition management, using condition-specific and patient-tailored software. Such apps have much potential, and there is an emerging body of literature on their use in a health context making this review timely.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to develop a systematic review protocol focused on identifying and assessing the effectiveness of mobile phone and tablet apps that support young people's management of their chronic conditions.

METHODS: The search strategy will include a combination of standardized indexed search terms and free-text terms related to the key concepts of young people; long-term conditions and mobile technology. Peer-reviewed journal articles published from 2003 that meet the inclusion and exclusion criteria will be identified through searching the generated hits from 5 bibliographical databases. Two independent reviewers will screen the titles and abstracts to determine which articles focus on testing interventions identified as a mobile phone or tablet apps, and that have been designed and delivered to support the management of long-term conditions in young people aged 10-24 years. Data extraction and quality assessment tools will be used to facilitate consistent analysis and synthesis. It is anticipated that several studies will meet the selection criteria but that these are likely to be heterogeneous in terms of study design, reported outcomes, follow-up times, participants' age, and health condition. Sub-group analyses will be undertaken and where possible meta-analyses will take place.

RESULTS: This review will synthesize available knowledge surrounding tablet and mobile phone apps that support management of long term physical health conditions in young people. The findings will be synthesized to determine which elements of the technologies were most effective for this population.

CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review aims to synthesize existing literature in order to generate findings that will facilitate the development of an app intervention. The review will form the first phase of development and evaluation of a complex intervention as recommended by the United Kingdom Medical Research Council. The knowledge gained from the review will be verified in subsequent phases, which will include primary qualitative work with health professionals and young people with long term conditions as research participants. Young people living with long-term conditions will be involved as co-researchers and consumer advisors in all subsequent phases to develop and evaluate an app to support the management of long-term physical health conditions.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO International prospective register of systematic reviews: CRD42014015418; (Archived by Webcite at


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