Date: 14 May 2014

Strategies for mHealth Research: Lessons from 3 Mobile Intervention Studies

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The capacity of Mobile Health (mHealth) technologies to propel healthcare forward is directly linked to the quality of mobile interventions developed through careful mHealth research. mHealth research entails several unique characteristics, including collaboration with technologists at all phases of a project, reliance on regional telecommunication infrastructure and commercial mobile service providers, and deployment and evaluation of interventions “in the wild”, with participants using mobile tools in uncontrolled environments. In the current paper, we summarize the lessons our multi-institutional/multi-disciplinary team has learned conducting a range of mHealth projects using mobile phones with diverse clinical populations. First, we describe three ongoing projects that we draw from to illustrate throughout the paper. We then provide an example for multidisciplinary teamwork and conceptual mHealth intervention development that we found to be particularly useful. Finally, we discuss mHealth research challenges (i.e. evolving technology, mobile phone selection, user characteristics, the deployment environment, and mHealth system “bugs and glitches”), and provide recommendations for identifying and resolving barriers, or preventing their occurrence altogether.