The effect of mobile app interventions on influencing healthy maternal behavior and improving perinatal health outcomes: Systematic review

Lisa M. Daly, Dell Horey, Philippa Middleton, Frances M. Boyle, Vicki Flenady

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Perinatal morbidity and mortality are significant public health issues with an enduring impact on the health and well-being of women and their families. Millions of pregnant women now download and use mobile applications to access, store, and share health information. However, little is known about the consequences. An investigation of their impact on perinatal health outcomes is particularly topical. Objective: To determine the effects of mobile app interventions during pregnancy on influencing healthy maternal behavior and improving perinatal health outcomes. Methods: Searches of PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Library, CINAHL, WHO Global Health Library, POPLINE, and CABI Global Health were conducted with no date or language restrictions. Randomized and non-randomized studies were included if they reported perinatal health outcomes of interventions targeting pregnant women, using mobile apps compared with other communication modalities or with standard care. The primary outcome measure was the change in maternal behaviors (as defined by trial authors), by intervention goals. Two reviewers independently extracted data using standardized forms. Results: Four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving 456 participants were included. All studies targeted participants in early pregnancy; however, wide variation was evident in participant characteristics, intervention, and study outcomes measures. Three trials were based in hospital settings, comparing women using mobile apps with routine antenatal care. One community-based trial gave all participants a device to promote physical activity; the intervention arm was also given a mobile app. All studies reported data for the primary outcome measure, describing some benefit from the intervention compared with controls. However, few statistically significant primary or secondary outcomes were reported. Due to insufficient data, the planned meta-analysis and subgroup analyses were not performed. Conclusions: Due to limited numbers, heterogeneity of interventions, comparators, and outcome measures, no firm conclusions can be drawn on the effects of mobile application interventions during pregnancy on maternal knowledge, behavior change, and perinatal health outcomes. As millions of women utilize mobile apps during pregnancy, rigorous studies are essential for health care and maternity care providers to optimally design, implement, and evaluate interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10012
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Apps
  • Behavior change
  • Infant
  • Intervention
  • Maternal
  • Mobile
  • Perinatal
  • Pregnancy
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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