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Pros and Cons of Using Mobile Wellness Apps on Health

Abstract

The proposal contains a preliminary discussion on mobile wellness applications and how they have developed over the years to dominate the Apple and Android app stores. Detailed relating to the background, aims and the central themes within the proposed research have been put forward. The key highlight within the study would relate to determining the significance of the benefits of mobile wellness applications in the real world and how the negative implications stand out to be in the context of user safety.

Furthermore, a methodology and design section has been outlined which is containing the key strategies that would be utilized to conduct the research. Both primary and secondary data sets have been proposed to be incorporated within the study along with their respective collection, sampling and analysis processes. The contributions of the study have also been mentioned along with a preliminary reading list that has been represented in the form of a concept matrix for greater clarity and comprehension.

Outline of the Proposed Research

Background

The background for the proposal primarily relates to the emergence of the concept of digital health, especially when considering the steadily growing portion of the consensus that has become conscious regarding their wellness. Estimates show that over 100,000 health and wellness applications are present on the Apple and Android stores. [1] Additionally, it has also been estimated that the total number of users that rely on wellness applications has crossed the 4 billion mark as of 2019.  A number of benefits are entailed with the concept of mobile wellness applications that are aligned with the aspect of convenience and education. Furthermore, the applications also tend to promote healthy behaviour within individuals through a systematic reliance on data and analytics.

The possibility of correlating lifestyle choices and personal decisions to health and wellbeing outcomes has also been one of the key drivers when considering the growth of wellness applications. [2] While the benefits are relatively well popularized, the potential cons and the shortcomings are unknown to the majority of the population. Moreover, the benefits seem to be well portrayed on the surface of the applications, especially in terms of how they emphasize on individual accountability within the users to promote physical and mental well being. Mobile wellness applications have certainly been on the rise and are projected to continue the trajectory upwards in the coming years. While discretion and the utilization of common sense are inherently mandated in this regard, the average user fundamentally relies on the graphical representations on the application as to what goes on behind the scenes.

Purpose

The primary purpose of the proposal is to establish the pros and cons of using mobile wellness applications and what the major implications could relate to over the coming years. It is important to note that the benefits and advantages have been talked about extensively in both academic publications as well as public engagements by companies behind the health and wellness applications. [3] However, the evident as well as the potential negative impacts have rarely been talked about because the key selling point of the wellness applications in terms of encouraging healthy behaviour tend to underline a positive connotation.

The research would aim to quantify the positives as well as the negative impacts involved in the use of wellness applications in a cross sectional manner using both quantitative and qualitative means. Furthermore, the purpose would also relate to paving the way for future research in this regard that highlights how wellness applications should be developed over time that essentially undermine the possibility of occurrence of the negatives.

Rationale

The rationale for the research in question would primarily relate to improving the knowledge and awareness about what goes on behind the wellness applications, especially in terms of safeguarding the interests of the users. Furthermore, it would also allow the developers to gain a better understanding in the context of how the developmental process and the related frameworks could be improved over time to ensure that the applications minimize the negative impacts of usage in a progressive manner.

The rationale of the current study would also extend on to future researchers and authors who seek to engage the concept in terms of further development. The negative aspects of mobile wellness applications have been rarely talked about in a public setting, let alone academic publications and scholarly literature. A majority of the existent literature focuses on the positives entailed with the use of mobile wellness applications while warranting the users to exercise a certain degree of caution prior to and while using them.

Research Topic and Central Research Question

The topic for the research is “Pros and cons of using mobile wellness apps on health”. The central research question has been presented as follows:

Q. What are the pros and cons of using mobile wellness applications on health?

The ancillary research questions have been presented as follows:

  1. What are the key concepts behind mobile wellness applications?

  2. What are the implications of the pros and cons of mobile wellness applications?

  3. What are the most prominent benefits of mobile wellness applications?

  4. How can the benefits be institutionalized within existent mobile wellness applications as well as those in development or that would be developed in the coming years?

  5. What are the potential risk factors related to the use of mobile wellness applications?

  6. What strategies and interventions can be undertaken to limit the occurrence of the risk factors over time?

The background of the central and ancillary research questions predominantly relates to the lack of comprehensive research studies that cover the diverse number of areas surrounding the usage of mobile wellness applications. Moreover, a number of studies have put forward theoretical conceptualization that emphasize on the development processes as opposed to the real world positives and negatives and how they go on to affect the users over time.

Methodological Approach

The methodological approach for the proposal would primarily be related to the philosophy of positivism. One of the most prominent benefits of a positivist study is that the final outcomes are highly objective due to the reliance on quantitative data. The research design would be exploratory by nature while the approach maintained would adhere to the concepts and principles of deductive reasoning. It would allow the study to be flexible and incorporate both frequency based quantitative data sets as well as qualitative opinions from experts.

In terms of the research timeline, a cross sectional design would be chosen to limit the time and the costs required to develop the final outcomes. Reliability and the validity of the final outcomes would be tested using simple statistical means to determine the degree of generalization. An emphasis would be placed on enhancing the credibility of the final outcomes through a targeted selection of existing literature that are specifically relevant to the key areas of the research. The study would also adhere to all the necessary ethical considerations, especially in terms of protecting the confidentiality of the participants and developing the outcomes for solely academic purposes.

Research Design

The data collection process would be conducted using both primary as well as secondary means. Close ended questionnaires would be utilized along with an open ended interview in terms of collecting the primary data sets. The survey would be carried out 20 participants that have had prior experience in using mobile wellness applications. The interview would be carried out with industry experts to obtain personal opinions based on domain specific expertise. The sampling strategy for the same would be aligned with the random non probability sampling method.

It would limit the scope for personal biases and ensure that the data sets collected are free from deliberately falsified information. [5] Furthermore, a systematic literature review would also be conducted using the purposive sampling method. Observation and inference would be the key methods to select the pieces of literature and ensure that the resultant evidence is synthesized in an effective manner. No simulations or experiments would be required to develop the research findings and develop the final outcomes throughout the research phases.

Contribution

The significance of the research is relevant in the context of establishing a concrete foundation regarding the positives and negatives of mobile wellness applications on health. Evident knowledge gaps are present in the concerned field of study those typically overlook the negative aspects. The study would aim to bridge the gaps through both the measures of qualitative and quantitative analysis along with the development of highly credible and valid resultant outcomes that are generalized by essence. Furthermore, it would also seek to expand the horizons covered in the context of how mobile wellness applications are developed keeping in mind the safety of the users. Aiming to pave the groundwork for future studies that further develop the areas would also comprise a major aspect within the significance of the proposed research. [7]

Proposed Time Schedule

The proposed time schedule for the research would be a period of two months. The research timeline along with its graphical representation using a Gantt chart have been presented as follows:

Activities

Start Date

Duration

End Date

Choosing key areas of the study

7.5.20

6

13.5.20

Finalizing the research aims and objectives

13.5.20

5

18.5.20

Reviewing research methodologies

18.5.20

3

21.5.20

Finalizing the research methodology

21.5.20

4

25.5.20

Establishing research phases

25.5.20

3

28.5.20

Identifying data collection methods

28.5.20

4

1.6.20

Finalizing data collection processes

1.6.20

4

5.6.20

Primary data collection

5.6.20

15

20.6.20

Secondary data collection

20.6.20

14

4.7.20

Consolidation of collected data sets

4.7.20

6

10.7.20

Formulation of findings

10.7.20

5

15.7.20

Submission of research study

15.7.20

2

17.7.20

Table 1: Research timeline

image shows Gantt chart

Figure 1: Gantt chart

Literature References

The literature references as enlisted below have been presented in the form of a concept map. Concept maps can be extremely beneficial when engaging in systematic literature reviews to eliminate the papers and publications that bear limited relevance to the key areas of the study. [6] The concept map followed by the preliminary references has been presented as follows:

Articles

Concept Matrix

 

Positives  of mobile wellness apps

Cons of mobile wellness apps

 

Improved health outcomes

Data accuracy

Convenience

 

Poor data security

Inaccuracy of results

Lack of regulation

A

x

 

x

 

x

 

B

x

x

x

 

x

x

C

x

 

x

 

 

 

D

x

x

x

 

 

 

E

x

x

x

 

 

 

F

x

 

x

 

x

 

G

x

x

x

 

x

 

H

x

x

x

 

 

x

I

x

x

x

 

x

 

J

 

 

 

 

 

 

K

 

x

x

 

 

 

L

x

x

x

 

 

 

M

x

 

x

x

x

 

N

x

x

x

x

 

 

O

x

 

 

 

x

 

P

x

 

x

 

x

 

Q

x

 

x

 

x

 

R

x

x

x

 

 

 

S

x

x

x

 

 

 

T

x

 

x

 

x

 

Table 2: Research timeline

Serial no.

Literature Reference

A

Abbas, A., Bilal, H.S.M. and Lee, S. “Smartphone Based Wellness Application for Healthy Lifestyle Promotion (poster)”. In Proceedings of the 17th Annual International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services (pp. 622-623). 2019

B

Pais, S., Parry, D., Rush, E. and Rowan, J. “Data integration for mobile wellness apps to support treatment of GDM”. In Proceedings of the Australasian Computer Science Week Multiconference (pp. 1-7). 2016

C

Sannino, G., Forastiere, M. and De Pietro, G. “A wellness mobile application for smart health: Pilot study design and results”. Sensors, 17(3), p.611. 2017

D

Nikou, S. and Bouwman, H. “Mobile health and wellness applications: A business model ontology-based review”. International Journal of E-Business Research (IJEBR), 13(1), pp.1-24. 2017

E

Vehmas, K., Tihinen, M. and Seisto, A. “Collaborative design boosting development of digital wellness services”. International journal of scientific and technical research in engineering (IJSTRE), 2(2), pp.36-49. 2017

F

Similä, H., Immonen, M., Toska-Tervola, J., Enwald, H., Keränen, N., Kangas, M., Jämsä, T. and Korpelainen, R. “Feasibility of mobile mental wellness training for older adults.” Geriatric Nursing, 39(5), pp.499-505. 2018

G

Mezei, J. and Nikou, S. “Fuzzy optimization to improve mobile health and wellness recommendation systems.” Knowledge-Based Systems, 142, pp.108-116. 2018

H

McLeod, K., Girchenko, L., Spenler, P. and Spachos, P. “A smartphone-based wellness assessment using mobile sensors.” In 2018 IEEE Global Conference on Signal and Information Processing (GlobalSIP) (pp. 454-458). IEEE. 2018

I

Choi, W. and Tulu, B. “Effective use of user interface and user experience in an mHealth application.” In Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. 2017

J

Mukhtar, H. “Using persuasive recommendations in wellness applications based upon user activities.” Int J Adv Comput Sci Appl, 7(8), pp.349-356. 2016

K

Eriksson, A., Pettersson, J. and Sjögren, F. “Perceived usefulness of user interface characteristics for mobile health applications.” 2018

L

Stubbins, R., He, T., Yu, X., Puppala, M., Ezeana, C.F., Chen, S., Valdivia y Alvarado, M., Ensor, J., Rodriguez, A., Niravath, P. and Chang, J. “A behavior-modification, clinical-grade mobile application to improve breast cancer survivors' accountability and health outcomes.” JCO clinical cancer informatics, 2, pp.1-11. 2018

M

Li, T., Shang, Y. and Ge, W. “Optical Technologies for Healthcare and Wellness Applications.” Journal of healthcare engineering, 2019. 2019

N

Copeland, C., Morreale, P. and Li, J. “m-Health application Interface design for symptom checking.” In 10th International Conference on e-Health. 2018

O

Pucihar, A., Ravesteijn, M.K.B.P., Seitz, J. and Bons, R. “Can Sport and Wellness Technology be My Personal Trainer?–Teenagers and Digital Coaching.” 2018

P

Alturki, R. and Gay, V. “Usability testing of fitness mobile application: case study Aded Surat app.” Int Journ Comp Sci Inf Tech, 9(5), pp.105-125. 2017

Q

Kekkonen, M., Oinas-Kukkonen, H., Tikka, P., Jaako, J., Simunaniemi, A.M. and Muhos, M. “Participatory Design of a Persuasive Mobile Application for Helping Entrepreneurs to Recover from Work.” In International Conference on Persuasive Technology (pp. 172-183). Springer, Cham. 2018

R

Ho, J.G., Shin, W.H., Oh, D., Han, Y., Han, J. and Min, S.D. “Implementation of Joint Treatment Application.” 2017

S

Antoniou, P.E., Rivera-Romero, O., Karagianni, M. and Bamidis, P.D. “Towards Evidence Based M-Health Application Design in Cancer Patient Healthy Lifestyle Interventions.” In 2017 IEEE 30th International Symposium on Computer-Based Medical Systems (CBMS) (pp. 690-695). IEEE. 2017

T

Hashim-de Vries, A.H.A., Ismail, M., Mohamed, A. and Subramaniam, P. “Weaving the Non-pharmacological Alzheimer’s Disease Therapy into Mobile Personalized Digital Memory Book Application.” In World Conference on Information Systems and Technologies (pp. 522-529). Springer, Cham. 2018

Table 3: Research timeline

Reference List

[1]M. Rucker, "Using Apps and Technology for Improving Your Health", Verywell Health, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.verywellhealth.com/mobile-health-4014014. [Accessed: 05- May- 2020].

[2] Pais, S., Parry, D. and Rowan, J., “A framework of evaluation of mobile wellness apps for use in a clinical setting.” In 2017 IEEE Region 10 Symposium (TENSYMP) (pp. 1-5). IEEE. 2017.

[3] Nikou, S. and Bouwman, H., “Mobile health and wellness applications: A business model ontology-based review.” International Journal of E-Business Research (IJEBR), 13(1), pp.1-24. 2017.

[4]Young, M., Varpio, L., Uijtdehaage, S. and Paradis, E., The Spectrum of Inductive and Deductive Research Approaches Using Quantitative and Qualitative Data. Academic Medicine. 2020.

[5]Etikan, I. and Bala, K.., Sampling and sampling methods. Biometrics & Biostatistics International Journal, 5(6), p.00149. 2017

[6]Utasch, F. and Loebbecke, C., “Intelligent Technologies Shaping Business Models for Journalistic Content Provision: A Concept Matrix.” 2017.

[7] Rich, E. and Miah, A., “Mobile, wearable and ingestible health technologies: towards a critical research agenda.” Health Sociology Review, 26(1), pp.84-97. 2017

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