IU School of Public Health-Bloomington researchers evaluate caregiver apps in new study published in JMIR
Researchers from the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington (IUSPH-B) recently published "Quality of Mobile Apps for Care Partners of People With Alzheimer Disease and Related Dementias: Mobile App Rating Scale Evaluation" in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) mHealth and uHealth.
Drs. Nicole E. Werner, Richard J. Holden, and colleagues examined 17 available smartphone apps intended to assist members of the public who provide care to patients living with Alzheimer's disease or related dementia (ADRD). The authors note, "Over 11 million care partners in the United States who provide care to people living with [ADRD] cite persistent and pervasive unmet needs related to their caregiving role."
Mobile/smartphone app technologies have the potential to serve the needs caregivers who lack formal training and other critical resources and support. The researchers evaluated apps using the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS). The scale includes 23 rating items across five dimensions: engagement, functionality, aesthetics, information, and subjective quality. The apps included in the JMIR study were, on average, determined to be of "minimally acceptable quality."
"'Minimally acceptable' is simply not good enough," says Dr. Holden, a professor and Dean’s Eminent Scholar, who leads the IUSPH-B Department of Health & Wellness Design and also serves as a research scientist at the University Center for Aging Research at Regenstrief Institute. "As critical as it is to support dementia caregivers, we need apps that are more usable, better rooted in evidence, much more engaging, and are of overall higher quality."
Dr. Werner, who will join the department in the upcoming academic year, adds: "We’re working to make sure we make the high-quality mobile apps that care partners need and deserve, and one way we are doing this is through user-centered design."