What types of patients use health apps? 5 study insights

Individuals with self-reported poor health are less likely to engage with health apps than their healthier counterparts, according to a study published in the journal JMIR mHealth and uHealth.

For the study, researchers from New York City-based New York University and Atlanta-based Emory University surveyed 1,604 mobile phone users in the U.S. about their attitudes toward health apps, including how many apps participants had downloaded and used.

Here are five findings from the study.

1. There was not a significant difference in health app download rates between participants with a chronic condition and those without a chronic condition.

2. However, those with self-reported "very good" or "excellent" health were more likely to download health apps than those with "poor" health.

3. Similarly, those who exercise at least one day a week were more likely to download health apps than those who reported "never" or "rarely" engaging in physical activity.

4. When considering health app usage, 21.3 percent of respondents without a chronic condition indicated they engage with a health app at least twice a day.

5. By contrast, 16.6 percent of those with high cholesterol, 13.1 percent of those with obesity, 12.3 percent of those with diabetes, 12 percent of those with depression and 2.7 percent of those with hypertension identified as having used a health app at least twice a day.

The study authors concluded, "Individuals with poor self-reported health and low rates of physical activity, arguably those who stand to benefit most from health apps, were least likely to report download and use these health tools."

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