Digital health RCT interventions for cardiovascular disease risk reduction: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Rohan Neil Devani*, Arushan Kirubakaran, Mariam Molokhia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Heart disease is a leading cause of UK mortality. Evidence suggests digital health interventions (DHIs), such as smartphone applications, may reduce cardiovascular risk, but no recent reviews are available. This review examined the effect of DHIs on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk scores in patients with increased CVD risk, compared to usual care alone. PubMed, Cochrane Database, Medline, and Google Scholar were searched for eligible trials published after 01/01/2010, involving populations with at least one CVD risk factor. Primary outcome was change in CVD risk score (e.g. QRISK3) between baseline and follow-up. Meta-analysis was undertaken using Revman5/STATA using random-effects modelling. Cochrane RoB-2 tool determined risk-of-bias. 6 randomised controlled trials from 36 retrieved articles (16.7%) met inclusion criteria, involving 1,157 patients treated with DHIs alongside usual care, and 1,127 patients offered usual care only (control group). Meta-analysis using random-effects model in STATA showed an inconclusive effect for DHIs as effective compared to usual care (Mean Difference, MD -0.76, 95% CI -1.72, 0.20), with moderate certainty (GRADEpro). Sensitivity analysis by DHI modality suggested automated email messaging was the most effective DHI (MD -1.09, 95% Cl -2.15, -0.03), with moderate certainty (GRADEpro). However, substantial study heterogeneity was noted in main and sensitivity analyses (I2 = 66% and 64% respectively). Quality assessment identified risk-of-bias concerns, particularly for outcome measurement. Findings suggest specific DHIs such as automated email messaging may improve CVD risk outcomes, but were inconclusive for DHIs overall. Further research into specific DHI modalities is required, with longer follow-up.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-700
Number of pages14
JournalHealth and Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Digital health
  • Digital technology
  • eHealth
  • mHealth


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