Thematic Review on Mobile Health Applications in Design Perspective Publications from 2018-2023: Analysis of Trends for Future Studies

  • Xinxin Yu
  • Saiful Hasley Ramli
  • Noris Mohad Norowi
  • Siti Suhaily Surip
  • Ziming Li
  • Donggui You
  • Qingqing Chu
  • Na Song
  • Xuan Ding
  • Xiaolin Yang


As 5G technology expands, many people use mobile health apps (mHealth apps) to manage their health, including chronic disease health management, maternal health information inquiry, mental illness problem consultation, and personal health management. Applications for mobile health that are poorly designed make it difficult for users to access health information. Despite the rise in publications on the subject, few evaluations look at the design of mHealth apps and their potential futures.  Accordingly, the specific objective of the study is to report the results of a thematic review analysis that examined the research on mHealth apps development from the perspective of design, addressing the knowledge and methods required to build design-based mHealth apps. Thematic review analysis of 49 articles from 2018 to 2023 was used to collect data for this study, and the results of the ATLAS.ti 23 code-to-document review show the trends that researchers should look for. Four major themes can be seen from the analysis: 1) mHealth Apps applied Theory; 2) mHealth Apps Functionality Features; 3) mHealth apps design strategy; 4) mHealth Apps Design Elements. The findings imply that in order for users to adhere to mHealth apps as intended, future research trends in their design practice should integrate design strategy with transdisciplinary research. This endeavor will produce new understanding of new standards for research trends in mHealth app development.


Abras, C., Maloney-Krichmar, D., & Preece, J. (2004). User-Centered Design. In Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Alsswey, A., & Al-Samarraie, H. (2021). The role of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions in the design of user interface: The case of Arabic. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing, 35(1), 116–127. 2023-06-24.
Alsswey, A. H., Al-Samarraie, H., El-Qirem, F. A., Alzahrani, A. I., & Alfarraj, O. (2020). Culture in the design of mHealth UI. The Electronic Library, 38(2), 257–272. 2023-06-24.
Alsswey, A., Naufal, I., & Bervell, B. (2018). Investigating the Acceptance of Mobile Health Application User Interface Cultural-Based Design to Assist Arab Elderly Users. International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications, 9(8).
Amann, J., Fiordelli, M., Scheel-Sailer, A., Brach, M., & Rubinelli, S. (2020). Opportunities and Challenges of a Self-Management App to Support People With Spinal Cord Injury in the Prevention of Pressure Injuries: Qualitative Study. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 8(12), e22452. 2023-03-22.
Balapour, A., Reychav, I., Sabherwal, R., & Azuri, J. (2019). Mobile technology identity and self-efficacy: Implications for the adoption of clinically supported mobile health apps. International Journal of Information Management, 49, 58–68.
Bandura, A. (1986). The Explanatory and Predictive Scope of Self-Efficacy Theory. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 4(3), 359–373.
Bonet Olivencia, S., Rao, A. H., Smith, A., & Sasangohar, F. (2022). Eliciting Requirements for a Diabetes Self-Management Application for Underserved Populations: A Multi-Stakeholder Analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(1), 127. Scopus.
Connor, K., Wambach, K., & Baird, M. B. (2018). Descriptive, Qualitative Study of Women Who Use Mobile Health Applications to Obtain Perinatal Health Information. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 47(6), 728–737. Scopus.
Cruz Zapata, B., Fernández-Alemán, J. L., Toval, A., & Idri, A. (2018). Reusable Software Usability Specifications for mHealth Applications. Journal of Medical Systems, 42(3). Scopus.
Eaves, E. R., Doerry, E., Lanzetta, S. A., Kruithoff, K. M., Negron, K., Dykman, K., Thoney, O., & Harper, C. C. (2023). Applying User-Centered Design in the Development of a Supportive mHealth App for Women in Substance Use Recovery. American Journal of Health Promotion, 37(1), 56–64. 2023-06-24.
Erguera, X. A., Johnson, M. O., Neilands, T. B., Ruel, T., Berrean, B., Thomas, S., & Saberi, P. (2019). WYZ: a pilot study protocol for designing and developing a mobile health application for engagement in HIV care and medication adherence in youth and young adults living with HIV. BMJ Open, 9(5), e030473. Scopus.
Fernández-Gutiérrez, M., Bas-Sarmiento, P., Jesús Marín-Paz, A., Castro-Yuste, C., Sánchez-Sánchez, E., Hernández-Encuentra, E., Jesus Vinolo-Gil, M., Carmona-Barrientos, I., & Poza-Méndez, M. (2023). Self-management in heart failure using mHealth: A content validation. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 171, 104986. 2023-06-24.
Global mHealth Apps Market Size & Trends Report, 2030 (Healthcare GVR-1-68038-555-7; Global mHealth Apps Market Size & Trends Report, 2030, p. 118). (2022).
Hantgan, S. L., & Jariwala, S. P. (2023). User-centered mobile health applications for asthma. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 130(2), 159–160. Scopus.
Hill, C., Reardon, T., Taylor, L., & Creswell, C. (2022). Online Support and Intervention for Child Anxiety (OSI): Development and Usability Testing. JMIR Formative Research, 6(4). 2023-02-19.
Islam, M. N., Bouwman, H., & Islam, A. K. M. N. (2020). Evaluating Web and Mobile User Interfaces With Semiotics: An Empirical Study. IEEE Access, 8, 84396–84414. 2023-02-19.
Joshi, A., Amadi, C., Schumer, H., Galitzdorfer, L., & Gaba, A. (2019). A human centered approach to design a diet app for patients with metabolic syndrome. mHealth, 5, 43–43. 2023-06-24.
Koumpouros, Y. (2022). User-Centric Design Methodology for mHealth Apps: The PainApp Paradigm for Chronic Pain. Technologies, 10(1), 25. Scopus.
Ludden, G. D. S., Schifferstein, H. N. J., & Hekkert, P. (2008). Surprise as a Design Strategy. Design Issues, 24(2), 28–38.
Mathur, S., Janaudis‐Ferreira, T., Hemphill, J., Cafazzo, J. A., Hart, D., Holdsworth, S., Lovas, M., & Wickerson, L. (2021). User‐centered design features for digital health applications to support physical activity behaviors in solid organ transplant recipients: A qualitative study. Clinical Transplantation, 35(12). Scopus.
O’Brien, T., & Rosenthal, A. (2020). Preferred Features in Mobile Health Applications for Kidney Transplant Recipients: A Qualitative Approach. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 47(6), 529. Scopus.
Pinnarong, R., Siangpipop, S., Harncharnchai, A., Nimmolrat, A., & Thinnukool, O. (2021). Thai Pregnant Mobile Application: Review and Development Report. International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies (iJIM), 15(13), 57. Scopus.
Vlahu-Gjorgievska, E., Burazor, A., Win, K. T., & Trajkovik, V. (2023). mHealth Apps Targeting Obesity and Overweight in Young People: App Review and Analysis. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 11, e37716. 2023-02-19.
Wildenbos, G. A., Jaspers, M. W. M., Schijven, M. P., & Dusseljee- Peute, L. W. (2019). Mobile health for older adult patients: Using an aging barriers framework to classify usability problems. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 124, 68–77. 2023-06-24.
Yu, X., Ramli, S. H., Norowi, N. M., Surip, S. S., Ibrahim, R., Yang, X., & Li, Z. (2023). Assessing Fetal Health by Pregnant Women in China Using Mobile Health Application. International Journal of Business and Technology Management, 5(3), Article 3.
How to Cite
YU, Xinxin et al. Thematic Review on Mobile Health Applications in Design Perspective Publications from 2018-2023: Analysis of Trends for Future Studies. International Journal of Business and Technology Management, [S.l.], v. 5, n. 3, p. 692-709, oct. 2023. ISSN 2682-7646. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 13 june 2024.