mHealth interventions to improve cancer screening and early detection: scoping review of reviews

Désirée Schliemann, Min Min Tan, Wilfred Mok Kok Hoe, Devi Mohan, Nur Aishah Taib, Michael Donnelly, Tin Tin Su

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cancer screening provision in resource-constrained settings tends to be opportunistic, and uptake tends to be low, leading to delayed presentation and treatment and poor survival. Objective: The aim of this study was to identify, review, map, and summarize findings from different types of literature reviews on the use of mobile health (mHealth) technologies to improve the uptake of cancer screening. Methods: The review methodology was guided by the PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews). Ovid MEDLINE, PyscINFO, and Embase were searched from inception to May 2021. The eligible criteria included reviews that focused on studies of interventions that used mobile phone devices to promote and deliver cancer screening and described the effectiveness or implementation of mHealth intervention outcomes. Key data fields such as study aims, types of cancer, mHealth formats, and outcomes were extracted, and the data were analyzed to address the objective of the review. Results: Our initial search identified 1981 titles, of which 12 (0.61%) reviews met the inclusion criteria (systematic reviews: n=6, 50%; scoping reviews: n=4, 33%; rapid reviews: n=1, 8%; narrative reviews: n=1, 8%). Most (57/67, 85%) of the interventions targeted breast and cervical cancer awareness and screening uptake. The most commonly used mHealth technologies for increasing cancer screening uptake were SMS text messages and telephone calls. Overall, mHealth interventions increased knowledge about screening and had high acceptance among participants. The likelihood of achieving improved uptake-related outcomes increased when interventions used >1 mode of communication (telephone reminders, physical invitation letters, and educational pamphlets) together with mHealth. Conclusions: mHealth interventions increase cancer screening uptake, although multiple modes used in combination seem to be more effective.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere36316
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • cancer
  • cancer detection
  • cancer screening
  • digital health
  • mHealth
  • mobile health
  • mobile phone
  • oncology
  • review
  • scoping review
  • scoping review of reviews

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