A user-centered model for designing consumer mobile health (mHealth) applications (apps)

Rebecca Schnall, Marlene Rojas, Suzanne Bakken, William Brown, Alex Carballo-Dieguez, Monique Carry, Deborah Gelaude, Jocelyn Patterson Mosley, Jasmine Travers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Mobile technologies are a useful platform for the delivery of health behavior interventions. Yet little work has been done to create a rigorous and standardized process for the design of mobile health (mHealth) apps. This project sought to explore the use of the Information Systems Research (ISR) framework as guide for the design of mHealth apps. Methods: Our work was guided by the ISR framework which is comprised of 3 cycles: Relevance, Rigor and Design. In the Relevance cycle, we conducted 5 focus groups with 33 targeted end-users. In the Rigor cycle, we performed a review to identify technology-based interventions for meeting the health prevention needs of our target population. In the Design Cycle, we employed usability evaluation methods to iteratively develop and refine mock-ups for a mHealth app. Results: Through an iterative process, we identified barriers and facilitators to the use of mHealth technology for HIV prevention for high-risk MSM, developed 'use cases' and identified relevant functional content and features for inclusion in a design document to guide future app development. Findings from our work support the use of the ISR framework as a guide for designing future mHealth apps. Discussion: Results from this work provide detailed descriptions of the user-centered design and system development and have heuristic value for those venturing into the area of technology-based intervention work. Findings from this study support the use of the ISR framework as a guide for future mHealth app development. Conclusion: Use of the ISR framework is a potentially useful approach for the design of a mobile app that incorporates end-users' design preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-251
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomedical Informatics
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Design science
  • HIV
  • MHealth
  • MSM
  • Mobile apps
  • User-centered

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics


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