What features do patients ‘want’ in a mobile asthma app?: a qualitative study

Chi Yan Hui, Robert Walton, Brian McKinstry, Hilary Pinnock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Introduction: Asthma self-management with an action plan, improves health outcomes although engaging patients is challenging. Mobile apps may promote engagement.

Aim: We explored features that attract patients to download and use an asthma app.

Methods: Participating practices in Lothian/Oxford (n=5) invited adults with active asthma (total n=500) to try our prototype app. We purposively sampled patients (age/sex, experience of asthma, current self-management and technology use) and interviewed them before and after using the app for one month. Interviews were transcribed and analysed thematically. We explored opinions about preferred features.

Results: We recruited 15 patients who used iOS or android phones. Patients less familiar with technology needed assistance with downloading the app. Motivation for trying the app included helping research and improving their asthma. Features ‘wanted’ in an app varied. One patient who was confident with technology but only occasionally symptomatic felt ‘bored’ with logging peak-flow and symptoms, preferring advanced features that could identify precise triggers, or provide real time alarms if their condition worsened. Another less confident with asthma management found it ‘helpful’ to log peak-flow, symptoms and keep diary entries. One patient with exercise-induced asthma found it ‘quite good’ to log medications taken after exercise and connected with an activity tracker.

Conclusion: We identified a number of different factors to inform future app development. One size does not fit all and ‘wanted’ features varied. Flexible apps may meet the needs of a broader range of patients.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Early online date6 Dec 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Dec 2017


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