Mobile apps in the workplace?: Addo: a process and outcome evaluation

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University of New Brunswick


Numerous innovations in health information technology are empowering individuals to assume a more active role in monitoring and managing their health. The use of health-promoting Mobile Applications as a tool in workplaces is growing among employees who seek support to modify their lifestyles. The aims of this study are to evaluate a mobile app, Addo, regarding its implementation and impact on promoting health behaviour changes in workplace settings in Nova Scotia. Treatment (n=51) and control groups (n=51) were assessed through a longitudinal design using the RE-AIM (Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance) framework. Data were collected through surveys (pre-, post- and 3 months post-Addo mobile app challenge) and qualitative interviews. Results from the treatment group indicated that the implementation of Addo was low. Using validated and standardized survey tools (General Self-Efficacy and RAND-SF-36), all participants scored ‘excellent/very good’ self-reported health at baseline (77%) and 3-months post Addo mobile app (79%): Addo had no impact. Interview feedback on the app was generally negative. The low levels of usage and implementation combined with the already healthy behaviours of participants may indicate a lack of need by these employees for Addo. The lack of impact and negative perceptions about the app may have influenced the developer to discontinue the availability of the app, which occurred near the end of the evaluation. The results from this evaluation indicated little need for this app, low use, and no impact, however, in populations where need is greater or where apps are more motivating, a more positive outcome is possible. As the app market for health promotion continues to grow, it is important that evidence-based evaluation inform their development and use, and to assess their outcomes.