Introduction and hypothesis
Mobile applications (apps) are becoming an increasingly popular means of obtaining medical information. The aim of our study was to identify and evaluate patient-centered fecal incontinence (FI) mobile apps using a modified APPLICATIONS scoring system.
We conducted searches in the Apple App and Google Play stores to identify FI-related mobile apps using search terms reflecting both commonly accepted medical terms as well as colloquial terms used by our patients with FI. Apps that were in English, relevant to FI, patient-centered, and medically accurate were included. Each eligible app was then independently evaluated by the three authors using a modified 17-point APPLICATIONS scoring system.
We identified 2785 apps upon initial search using FI search terms. Fourteen apps met eligibility criteria for scoring. Most apps were bowel movement trackers (13/14, 93%), of which only three allowed for tracking of FI episodes. Only one (7%) app contained educational information specific to FI. Ten (71%) apps were fully functional at no cost. Thirteen (93%) apps cited literature. Median APPLICATIONS score was 10 (IQR 9–11). “BristolStoolChart,” “FreeToBe,” and “PoopLog” each received the highest total score of 13.
Patient-centered mobile apps that provide FI-specific educational information or allow for FI symptom tracking are scarce. While we did discover some accurate sources of information and means of tracking bowel habits, patients are likely to encounter inaccurate or irrelevant information even when searching for FI-related apps using appropriate terminology. Future app development should include FI-specific symptom tracking and educational information from reputable sources.
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Presented at the American Urogynecologic Society PFD Week 2020, Short Oral Presentation, October 10, 2020.
Conflict of interest
M Vega: No conflicts of interest to declare.
ER Mckay: No conflicts of interest to declare.
PK Halani: No conflicts of interest to declare.
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Vega, M., Mckay, E.R. & Halani, P.K. Evaluation of mobile applications for patients with fecal incontinence using a modified APPLICATIONS scoring system. Int Urogynecol J 32, 2529–2536 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00192-021-04918-4
- Fecal incontinence
- Mobile health applications
- Patient-centered applications
- Smartphone health technology
- Accidental bowel leakage