Your phone goes everywhere you go: it’s a pocket-sized computer ready to direct, inform and entertain. But do our phones really make us any smarter? Sure, your phone can order an Uber, tell you the time in Tokyo and words to the second verse in “Creep”, but are we really tapping into the personal power presented by our phones? There are apps to track our steps, but what about apps to guide our steps toward recovery?
A 2016 study called Can Mobile Phone Apps Influence People’s Health Behavior Change: An Evidence Review tries to find answers to these very important questions. The study’s clear objective: “to examine the effectiveness of mobile phone apps in achieving health-related behavior change.” In other words, this study took time to review info from various studies so we can begin to see how phones can help guide us to make healthier choices.
Noting that “widespread adoption of mobile phones highlights a significant opportunity to impact health behaviors globally,” this review looks to help us take advantage of our phone’s power to influence our choices. This review completed a “search of articles on health behavior change using mobile phone apps in peer- reviewed journals published between January 1, 2010 and June 1, 2015” to find out if the apps are helping people achieve health-related behavior changes.
What did they find out? The results are promising: from a “total of 23 articles…17 studies reported statistically significant effects in the direction of targeted behavior change.” This means that using health-monitoring apps can really have an impact on the choices we make. Of course, this is not a miracle cure: consistent use of health-monitoring apps along with a daily routine built around healthy choices can help to manage addictive behaviors.
The conclusion of this research offers an optimistic outlook for using phones to aid recovery: “The widespread adoption of mobile phones highlights a significant opportunity to impact health behaviors.” So, the next time you check your phone for the weather, or update you status on social media, take a look at these health-monitoring apps that have been helping thousands of people:
Links to Health-Monitoring Apps
Zhao, J., Freeman, B., & Li, M. (2016). Can Mobile Phone Apps Influence People’s Health Behavior Change? An Evidence Review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18(11).