Very few of the more than 40,000 health apps available on app stores have received any evaluation. Thus, users, clinicians, and payers do not know which are efficacious and which provide no benefit. The randomized controlled trial (RCT), the gold standard for evaluation of medications, devices, and therapies is insufficient in its current form. RCTs are designed to evaluate interventions, like a medication, that do not change and, when effective, are given to millions of people over years and decades. Behavioral intervention technologies (BITs), however, change rapidly to keep up with the technology environment, harness new capabilities in computing power and data transmission, adopt features from other apps, and meet changing consumer expectations. We are working to develop methodologies that can evaluate these evolving interventions.
Despite the intuition that the more a BIT is used, the more the user will benefit, research findings to support this notion are mixed. As such, understanding how a behavioral intervention technology moves a user from their current state to a state of increased health, mental health, and wellness requires conceptual models that can integrate behavioral theory and technological architecture. We are working to refine conceptual models of how technological features meet the needs, capabilities, and preferences of users and how usage of these features leads to benefits for the user.
Some of our published papers in this area includes: