Smartphones and health promotion: a review of the evidence

J Med Syst. 2014 Jan;38(1):9995. doi: 10.1007/s10916-013-9995-7. Epub 2013 Nov 16.


Communication via mobile phones has become an essential tool for health professionals. The latest generation of smartphones is comparable to computers, allowing the development of new applications in health field. This paper aims to describe the use of smartphones by health professionals and patients in the field of health promotion. We conducted a bibliographic search through Pubmed. Then, research results were analyzed critically in order to select the best experiences available. All searches were carried out on November 2012 and were not limited by date. Each item from the initial search was reviewed independently by members of the project team. Initial search returned 472 items with PubMed. After the removal of duplicates, 406 items were reviewed by all the members of the project team and 21 articles were identified as specifically centered on health promotion. In the nutrition field there are applications that allow to count calories and keep a food diary or more specific platforms for people with food allergies, while about physical activity many applications suggest exercises with measurement of sports statistics. Some applications deal with lifestyles suggestions and tips. Finally, some positive experiences are reported in the prevention of falls in elderly and of sexually-transmitted diseases. Smartphones are transforming the ways of communication but the lack of monitoring of contents, the digital divide, the confidentiality of data, the exclusion of the health professional from the management of patient, are the main risks related to their use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Cell Phone*
  • Computers, Handheld*
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Health Personnel
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Life Style
  • Patients