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      The effectiveness of M-health technologies for improving health and health services: a systematic review protocol


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          The application of mobile computing and communication technology is rapidly expanding in the fields of health care and public health. This systematic review will summarise the evidence for the effectiveness of mobile technology interventions for improving health and health service outcomes (M-health) around the world.


          To be included in the review interventions must aim to improve or promote health or health service use and quality, employing any mobile computing and communication technology. This includes: (1) interventions designed to improve diagnosis, investigation, treatment, monitoring and management of disease; (2) interventions to deliver treatment or disease management programmes to patients, health promotion interventions, and interventions designed to improve treatment compliance; and (3) interventions to improve health care processes e.g. appointment attendance, result notification, vaccination reminders.

          A comprehensive, electronic search strategy will be used to identify controlled studies, published since 1990, and indexed in MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Global Health, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, or the UK NHS Health Technology Assessment database. The search strategy will include terms (and synonyms) for the following mobile electronic devices (MEDs) and a range of compatible media: mobile phone; personal digital assistant (PDA); handheld computer (e.g. tablet PC); PDA phone (e.g. BlackBerry, Palm Pilot); Smartphone; enterprise digital assistant; portable media player (i.e. MP3 or MP4 player); handheld video game console. No terms for health or health service outcomes will be included, to ensure that all applications of mobile technology in public health and health services are identified. Bibliographies of primary studies and review articles meeting the inclusion criteria will be searched manually to identify further eligible studies. Data on objective and self-reported outcomes and study quality will be independently extracted by two review authors. Where there are sufficient numbers of similar interventions, we will calculate and report pooled risk ratios or standardised mean differences using meta-analysis.


          This systematic review will provide recommendations on the use of mobile computing and communication technology in health care and public health and will guide future work on intervention development and primary research in this field.

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          Most cited references10

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          Research Approaches to Mobile Use in the Developing World: A Review of the Literature

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            Methods for evaluating area-wide and organisation-based interventions in health and health care: a systematic review.

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              Despite technical problems personal digital assistants outperform pen and paper when collecting patient diary data.

              To assess how personal digital assistants (PDAs) perform as collection tools of patient-reported outcomes in clinical research compared to pen and paper (P&P) diaries in terms of feasibility, protocol compliance, data accuracy, and subject acceptability. A systematic review of randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials comparing the PDA and P&P methods in a health diary context involving repeated measures in persons with chronic health problems. Nine studies were included. Their methodological quality was variable. Five studies reported on feasibility, and all reported technical difficulties with the PDA technology. Two studies reported that electronic collection leads to a substantial reduction in time used for data handling. Five studies reported that the PDA method results in better compliance, whereas one study reported the opposite. All three articles reporting on data accuracy indicated that there are fewer errors in the PDA records. Four articles scrutinized subject preference, and the PDA method came out favorably in all four. The PDA method seems to perform better than P&P in most of the selected outcomes. Technical malfunction is the chief disadvantage with the PDA method. Further research comparing PDA with paper data collection using more stringent methodology is needed.

                Author and article information

                BMC Res Notes
                BMC Research Notes
                BioMed Central
                6 October 2010
                : 3
                : 250
                [1 ]Department of Nutrition and Public Health Intervention Research, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine WC1E 7HT UK
                Copyright ©2010 Free et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 14 June 2010
                : 6 October 2010
                Project Note



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