A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found a majority of smartphone users have at least one health app. However, more than half of the people surveyed no longer used their health apps, according to a DOTmed article. Privacy concerns, app costs or burdensome data were among the reasons why most people did not use the health apps.
Dustin Duncan, epidemiologist and the study’s senior investigator, and his colleagues conducted the study to understand health app usage and patterns in the United States to better improve population health. The study surveyed 1,604 adult smartphone users evenly split between male and female participants, according to DOTmed.
Of those surveyed, “42 percent had downloaded five or more health apps that were mostly related to fitness and nutrition,” according to DOTmed. The study also found the demographics that are more likely to use health apps on smartphones.
These demographics include people who are younger, have higher education, are wealthier, are Hispanic or are obese are more likely to use health apps. Of the people surveyed, 65 percent said they used health apps daily. Most participants believed the apps improved their health, and the majority of people believed in the accuracy of the health apps with high confidence, according to DOTmed.
As for reasons why most smartphone owners stop using health apps, cost is the top contributor. “For me the most surprising finding was the high percentage – 41 percent – that wouldn’t pay for a health app or stopped using them because of hidden costs,” said Dr. Duncan, who is also an assistant professor at New York University Langone Medical Center.
While Paul Krebs, co-author of the study and clinical psychologist, stated people might not use health apps because of the lack of physician recommendation. “Only 20 percent of respondents reported that a doctor ever recommended a health app to them,” he said. “This isn’t surprising since evidence for their effectiveness is still very poor. We need more good clinical trials of these apps.”
The researchers used the survey results to recommend suggestions to app developers that included more apps that are user-friendly and evidence-based, privacy features, availability and content people are willing to pay for. “We hope the results of the study will help developers to ultimately improve people’s health and increase customer satisfaction,” Dr. Krebs said.