Mobile app-based health studies hampered by low participant engagement, retention rates

Mobile app-based health studies hampered by low participant engagement, retention rates

In one large-scale study, mean engagement with the app lasted only 4.1 days.

Studies using mobile health applications are hampered by significantly high participant dropout rates, although retention strategies can help maintain participant engagement, according to a study published in JMIR.

The adoption of mobile health (mHealth) apps has been increasing in the research sphere, and researchers have been able to monitor day-to-day fluctuations of a wide range of real-time data using these apps.

However, a fundamental challenge to many studies is the rapid and substantial participant dropout, the study explained.

The researchers focused on databases of mHealth studies in PubMed, MEDLINE and PsycINFO databases for mHealth studies from 2015 to 2020. In one large-scale mHealth study included in the report, the Stanford-led MyHeart Counts study, the engagement with the app was only 4.1 days.

"It is imperative for mHealth studies to minimize participant dropout, as substantial attrition may reduce study power and threaten the representativeness of the sample," the report advised.

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