Self-management education through mhealth: Review of strategies and structures

Nazli Bashi, Farhad Fatehi, Mina Fallah, Darren Walters, Mohanraj Karunanithi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Despite the plethora of evidence on mHealth interventions for patient education, there is a lack of information regarding their structures and delivery strategies. Objective: This review aimed to investigate the structures and strategies of patient education programs delivered through smartphone apps for people with diverse conditions and illnesses. We also examined the aim of educational interventions in terms of health promotion, disease prevention, and illness management. Methods: We searched PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Embase, and PsycINFO for peer-reviewed papers that reported patient educational interventions using mobile apps and published from 2006 to 2016. We explored various determinants of educational interventions, including the content, mode of delivery, interactivity with health care providers, theoretical basis, duration, and follow-up. The reporting quality of studies was evaluated according to the mHealth evidence and reporting assessment criteria. Results: In this study, 15 papers met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. The studies mainly focused on the use of mHealth educational interventions for chronic disease management, and the main format for delivering interventions was text. Of the 15 studies, 6 were randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which have shown statistically significant effects on patients’ health outcomes, including patients’ engagement level, hemoglobin A1c, weight loss, and depression. Although the results of RCTs were mostly positive, we were unable to identify any specific effective structure and strategy for mHealth educational interventions owing to the poor reporting quality and heterogeneity of the interventions. Conclusions: Evidence on mHealth interventions for patient education published in peer-reviewed journals demonstrates that current reporting on essential mHealth criteria is insufficient for assessing, understanding, and replicating mHealth interventions. There is a lack of theory or conceptual framework for the development of mHealth interventions for patient education. Therefore, further research is required to determine the optimal structure, strategies, and delivery methods of mHealth educational interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10771
Number of pages11
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Health education
  • mHealth
  • Mobile apps
  • Mobile phone
  • Patient education
  • Self-management education

Cite this