Background and importance The large number of health apps for genitourinary cancers means a transparent and objective evaluation by app experts and healthcare professionals is needed.
Aim and objectives To analyse the quality of apps for patients diagnosed with genitourinary cancers, using the mobile application rating scale (MARS) methodology.
Material and methods This was an observational, cross sectional descriptive study. Inclusion criteria were apps available in the ‘App Store’ and the ‘Play Store’ for genitourinary cancers intended for patients and/or careers. Inclusion period was February 2019.
Platform (Android/iOS), cost, date of the last update, type of cancer, purpose and participation of health professionals on their development were recorded. A multivariate analysis was conducted.
The quality of the apps was assessed using MARS. This evaluation includes 23 evaluation criteria clustered in five domains (engagement, functionality, aesthetics, information and subjective quality). Each evaluation criterion is rated from 1 to 5 according to its conformity (1=inadequate, 2=poor, 3=acceptable, 4=good, 5=excellent). The total mean score of MARS, which describes the overall quality of the app, was obtained by the mean score of every domain.
Results Forty-six apps were downloaded (31 Android, 6 iOS, 9 both platforms); 89.1% were free and 60.9% were updated in the last year. The most frequent cancers in the apps were prostate (30.4%), cervical (17.4%), testicular (13.0%) and ovarian (13.0%). The main purpose was informative (63.1%), preventive (23.9%) and diagnostic (13.0%). Seven apps (15.2%) were developed by healthcare organisations.
The average MARS score was 2.98 (SD=0.77), with a maximum of 4.63 and a minimum of 1.95. Functionality scores were similar among all the apps. The greatest differences were found in engagement and aesthetics criteria which showed acceptable scores only in a third of the apps. Multivariate analysis showed statistically significant differences according to the platform and participation of health professionals in the development (p<0.001 and p=0.01, respectively).
Conclusion and relevance Very few apps for patients with genitourinary cancers were focused on how to handle the disease after diagnosis, correct administration of treatment or adequate monitoring of symptoms. The participation of health professionals in the development was low but was correlated with quality. MARS is a helpful methodology to analyse app quality and make better recommendations to patients.
References and/or acknowledgements No conflict of interest.
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