Persuasive features for patient engagement through mHealth applications in managing chronic conditions: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis

Publication Name

Informatics for Health and Social Care


Patient engagement is currently considered the cornerstone of a revolution in healthcare for its positive impact on health outcomes, health behaviors and healthcare costs. Patient engagement is focused on personalized care to consumers through providing knowledge, skills and confidence. Mobile health (mHealth) applications are an innovative means to facilitate patient engagement. Nevertheless, the extent to which the current mHealth applications are designed to engage patients in managing their chronic diseases is unclear. This paper aims to identify the Persuasive System Design (PSD) features present in current mHealth applications that increased the engagement of patients with chronic diseases. This review also aims to identify patient engagement-related outcomes of these features. This paper conducted a systematic literature review and meta-analysis to find relevant studies published from all years up to 2020 through six databases: PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, Cinahl plus with full text, MEDLINE with full text, and Cochrane Library (Central register of controlled trials). The database search returned 4939 articles; after applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria, the number of included articles for the final review was 13. A qualitative content analysis was performed to identify PSD model features and their patient engagement-related outcomes. The quality assessment has been done through the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool for RCTs. The systematic literature review and meta-analysis identified eleven PSD features that can increase patient engagement through using mHealth applications. The identified PSD features have been shown to have various patient engagement-related outcomes. Behavior Change Techniques (BCTs) were combined with the identified PSD features. This paper identified persuasive features of mHealth application design that influence the engagement of patients with chronic diseases toward changing their behavior. The impact of these features is also analyzed in this review. The results show that an mHealth technology-mediated patient engagement model is needed.

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