Associations of Health App Use and Perceived Effectiveness in People With Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes: Population-Based Survey


Ernsting C, Stühmann LM, Dombrowski SU, Voigt-Antons J, Kuhlmey A & Gellert P (2019) Associations of Health App Use and Perceived Effectiveness in People With Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes: Population-Based Survey. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 7 (3), Art. No.: e12179.

Background: Mobile health apps can help to change health-related behaviors and manage chronic conditions in patients with cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and diabetes mellitus, but a certain level of health literacy and electronic health (eHealth) literacy may be needed. Objective: The aim of this study was to identify factors associated with mobile health app use in individuals with CVD or diabetes and detect relations with the perceived effectiveness of health apps among app users. Methods: The study used population-based Web-based survey (N=1500) among Germans, aged 35 years and older, with CVD, diabetes, or both. A total of 3 subgroups were examined: (1) Individuals with CVD (n=1325), (2) Individuals with diabetes (n=681), and (3) Individuals with CVD and diabetes (n=524). Sociodemographics, health behaviors, CVD, diabetes, health and eHealth literacy, characteristics of health app use, and characteristics of apps themselves were assessed by questionnaires. Linear and logistic regression models were applied. Results: Overall, patterns of factors associated with health app use were comparable in individuals with CVD or diabetes or both. Across subgroups, about every fourth patient reported using apps for health-related purposes, with physical activity and weight loss being the most prominent target behaviors. Health app users were younger, more likely to be female (except in those with CVD and diabetes combined), better educated, and reported more physical activity. App users had higher eHealth literacy than nonusers. Those users who perceived the app to have a greater effectiveness on their health behaviors tended to be more health and eHealth literate and rated the app to use more behavior change techniques (BCTs). Conclusions: There are health- and literacy-related disparities in the access to health app use among patients with CVD, diabetes, or both, which are relevant to specific health care professionals such as endocrinologists, dieticians, cardiologists, or general practitioners. Apps containing more BCTs had a higher perceived effect on people’s health, and app developers should take the complexity of needs into account. Furthermore, eHealth literacy appears to be a requirement to use health apps successfully, which should be considered in health education strategies to improve health in patients with CVD and diabetes.

mHealth; eHealth; smartphone; telemedicine; health literacy; chronic disease; comorbidity; multimorbidity

JMIR mHealth and uHealth: Volume 7, Issue 3

FundersPfizer Inc
Publication date31/03/2019
Publication date online28/03/2019
Date accepted by journal02/01/2019
PublisherJMIR Publications Inc.