BACKGROUND: Mobile phone health apps may now seem to be ubiquitous, yet much remains unknown with regard to their usage. Information is limited with regard to important metrics, including the percentage of the population that uses health apps, reasons for adoption/nonadoption, and reasons for noncontinuance of use. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine health app use among mobile phone owners in the United States. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 1604 mobile phone users throughout the United States. The 36-item survey assessed sociodemographic characteristics, history of and reasons for health app use/nonuse, perceived effectiveness of health apps, reasons for stopping use, and general health status. RESULTS: A little over half (934/1604, 58.23%) of mobile phone users had downloaded a health-related mobile app. Fitness and nutrition were the most common categories of health apps used, with most respondents using them at least daily. Common reasons for not having downloaded apps were lack of interest, cost, and concern about apps collecting their data. Individuals more likely to use health apps tended to be younger, have higher incomes, be more educated, be Latino/Hispanic, and have a body mass index (BMI) in the obese range (all P<.05). Cost was a significant concern among respondents, with a large proportion indicating that they would not pay anything for a health app. Interestingly, among those who had downloaded health apps, trust in their accuracy and data safety was quite high, and most felt that the apps had improved their health. About half of the respondents (427/934, 45.7%) had stopped using some health apps, primarily due to high data entry burden, loss of interest, and hidden costs. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that while many individuals use health apps, a substantial proportion of the population does not, and that even among those who use health apps, many stop using them. These data suggest that app developers need to better address consumer concerns, such as cost and high data entry burden, and that clinical trials are necessary to test the efficacy of health apps to broaden their appeal and adoption.
Health app use among US mobile phone owners: A national survey