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Mobile Health Apps for Self-Management of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases: Systematic Literature Review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Aurélie Najm, Laure Gossec, Catherine Weill, David Benoist, Francis Berenbaum, Elena Nikiphorou

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14730
Pages (from-to)e14730
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2019


King's Authors


Background: Although the increasing availability of mobile health (mHealth) apps may enable people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) to better self-manage their health, there is a general lack of evidence on ways to ensure appropriate development and evaluation of apps. Objective: This study aimed to obtain an overview on existing mHealth apps for self-management in patients with RMDs, focusing on content and development methods. Methods: A search was performed up to December 2017 across 5 databases. For each publication relevant to an app for RMDs, information on the disease, purpose, content, and development strategies was extracted and qualitatively assessed. Results: Of 562 abstracts, 32 were included in the analysis. Of these 32 abstracts, 11 (34%) referred to an app linked to a connected device. Most of the apps targeted rheumatoid arthritis (11/32, 34%). The top 3 aspects addressed by the apps were pain (23/32, 71%), fatigue (15/32, 47%), and physical activity (15/32, 47%). The development process of the apps was described in 84% (27/32) of the articles and was of low to moderate quality in most of the cases. Despite most of the articles having been published within the past 2 years, only 5 apps were still commercially available at the time of our search. Moreover, only very few studies showed improvement of RMD outcome measures. Conclusions: The development process of most apps was of low or moderate quality in many studies. Owing to the increasing RMD patients’ willingness to use mHealth apps for self-management, optimal standards and quality assurance of new apps are mandatory.

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