Safety Concerns with Consumer-Facing Mobile Health Applications and Their ConsequencesName : Dr. Saba Akbar
Affliation : Assistant Professor
University : University of North Carolina
Country : North Carolina
Consumers reported safety concerns between August 2017 and November 2017 via an online survey, by responding to a series of questions about the health app, the type of task being performed, response of the app and outcome of the situation. Participants were surveyed about their use of health apps and demographic information including gender and age was also gathered.
Participants and setting:
Consenting adults 18 years or over who used mobile health apps were recruited by publishing a call for volunteers at Macquarie University via website information, social media and an emailed newsletter. The study was approved by the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee.
Categorization of concerns and consequences:
Free-text descriptions of the reports from consumers were examined by an investigator (SA) to identify ‘natural categories’ for categorization7. A second investigator (JC) then classified the safety concerns using the new categorization. An inter-rater reliability analysis using the kappa statistic was performed to determine consistency among coders8. Inter-rater reliability for the primary classification was κ=0.79 (p<0.001, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.88). Consequences were assigned using a standard approach into potential or actual harm to a consumer (adverse event); arrested or interrupted sequence (near miss); noticeable consequence but no harm; no noticeable consequence; hazardous event or circumstance9. Harm was further categorized as serious, major, moderate, minor and minimum10.
There were 162 consumers in the final sample, out of which, 70% were female and 34% were aged between 25 and 35 years. Consumers reported using apps to support weight loss (n=85, 52%), track and improve eating habits (n=83, 51%), learn exercises (n=65, 40%), track sleep (n=65, 40%), relax (n=55, 34%), and to monitor health measures (n=35, 22%). Other reported uses included to keep a diary or log of symptoms, access health information.