Mobile apps used for people living with multiple sclerosis: A scoping review

Publication Name

Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders


Background: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder. People living with MS (plwMS) require long-term, multidisciplinary care in both clinical and community settings. MS-specific mHealth interventions have advanced in the form of clinical treatments, rehabilitation, disease monitoring and self-management of disease. However, mHealth interventions for plwMS appear to have limited proof of clinical efficacy. As native mobile apps target specific mobile operating systems, they tend to have better interactive designs leveraging platform-specific guidelines. Thus, to improve such efficacy, it is pivotal to explore the design characteristics of native mobile apps used for plwMS. Objectives: This study aimed to explore the design characteristics of native mobile apps used for adults living with MS in academic settings. Methods: A scoping review of studies was conducted. A literature search was performed through PubMed, CINAHL, MEDLINE and Cochrane Library. Per native mobile apps, characteristics, persuasive technology elements and evaluations were summarized. Results: A total of 14 native mobile apps were identified and 43% of the identified apps were used for data collection (n=6). Approximately 70% of the included apps involved users (plwMS) whilst developing (n=10). A total of three apps utilized embedded sensors. Videos or photos were used for physical activity interventions (n=2) and gamification principles were applied for cognitive and/or motor rehabilitation interventions (n=3). Behavior change theories were integrated into the design of the apps for fatigue management and physical activity. Regarding persuasive technology, the design principles of primary support were applied across all identified apps. The elements of dialogue support and social support were the least applied. The methods for evaluating the identified apps were varied. Conclusion: The findings suggest that the identified apps were in the early stages of development and had a user-centered design. By applying the persuasive systems design model, interaction design qualities and features of the identified mobile apps in academic settings were systematically evaluated at a deeper level. Identifying the digital functionality and interface design of mobile apps for plwMS will help researchers to better understand interactive design and how to incorporate these concepts in mHealth interventions for improvement of clinical efficacy.

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Funding Sponsor

Multiple Sclerosis Australia



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