New ADAPT Research Can Help Improve User Engagement in Mobile Health Systems

03 October 2022

Previous research has established that user engagement can help improve efficiencies of mobile Health (mHealth) systems. However, many mHealth systems fail to engage users effectively or understand the reason users may not be engaged, resulting in low adoption rates or decreased benefits of such interventions. 

A new study by ADAPT PhD student Tochukwu Ikwunne, Assistant Prof Lucy Hederman, and research fellow P J Wall, published in the International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications (IJACSA), aims to make the design, development and implementation of mHealth systems more efficient from a user engagement perspective. The research will help improve user engagement, consequently increasing efficiencies of mHealth systems in the future. 

As part of the study, ADAPT experts reviewed 10 years of research on mHealth design interventions conducted between 2011 to 2020. The aim of this review was to find out which design processes improved user engagement with mHealth, thus helping guide future interventions in this area. 

The exercise revealed six analytical themes that influence user engagement, namely, design goal, design target population, design method, design approach, socio-technical aspects, and design evaluation. In addition to these six analytical themes, 16 other specific implementations were also derived, resulting in a checklist that can help increase user engagement efficiencies in mHealth systems. 

Another important discovery presented by the study is the lack of consideration of socio-cultural contexts in the design of mHealth interventions. The study recommends that socio-cultural contexts be considered and addressed in a systematic manner by identifying a design process that engages users efficiently in mHealth interventions. It reveals that capturing the socio-cultural context of any mHealth implementation must be refined and developed to support better user engagement in mHealth. 

To summarise, the key takeaway for designers, developers and mHealth innovators from this study is the importance of considering the socio-cultural context in mHealth interventions. Moreover, the checklist developed by the study can serve as a practical aid for professionals working in this domain to improve the overall user engagement in mHealth solutions. 

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