Strategies that make mobile apps effective in increasing physical activity: A scoping review

Wafa Khamis Al-Majarfi


Objective: The objective of this study is to analyse the researchers’ studies on the effectiveness of mobile Apps to encourage people to undertake physical activity (PA), to determine what strategy makes utilising the mobile Apps an effective experience in increasing PA in healthy people, and to identify the gaps in their research studies.

Study design: The researcher utilised a scoping review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Scoping Review extension protocol.

Methods: This scoping review was conducted to identify under what conditions the mobile Apps could lead to the increased PA of the participants through analysing the research studies on mobile App features and participants’ characteristics. Studies included those with high internal validity (randomised controlled trials) that dealt mainly with PA. The articles were selected according to specific criteria including 1) quantitative studies in English language, 2) participants from 18-70 years of age, 3) healthy participants who were recruited from community/primary healthcare centres and at high risk of cardiovascular diseases, and 4) the studies’ outcomes on the apps’ effectiveness and efficiency in increasing PA. The articles were critiqued using the Specialist Unit for Review Evidence.

Results: Eight articles were finally selected and analysed. Four intervention strategies were identified from the studies – social aspect (3/8 studies), texting (3/8 studies), health sessions (3/8 studies), and feedback (5/8 studies). Results showed that some of the motivational strategies had a significant influence in improving PA.

Conclusions: The long-term effect was not tested on all studies. Therefore, long-term studies need to be conducted to test the consistency of the PA. Additionally, subgroup analysis should be performed to gauge the influence of individual characteristics on increasing PA.

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International Journal of Healthcare  ISSN 2377-7338(Print)  ISSN 2377-7346(Online)

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