Exploring the theoretical pathways through which asthma app features can promote adolescent self-management

Transl Behav Med. 2016 Dec;6(4):509-518. doi: 10.1007/s13142-016-0402-z.


Asthma apps often lack strong theoretical underpinnings. We describe how specific features of asthma apps influenced adolescents' self-observation, self-judgment, and self-reactions, which are key constructs of Self-Regulation Theory (SRT). Adolescents (ages 12-16) with persistent asthma (n = 20) used two asthma self-management apps over a 1-week period. During semi-structured interviews, participants identified their asthma goals and the app features that best promoted self-observation, self-judgment, and fostered positive self-reactions. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed thematically using MAXQDA. Adolescents' goals were to reduce the impact of asthma on their lives. Adolescents reported that self-check quizzes, reminders, and charting features increased their ability to self-observe and self-judge their asthma, which, in turn, helped them feel more confident they could manage their asthma independently and keep their asthma well-controlled. Asthma apps can positively influence adolescents' self-management behaviors via increased self-observation, self-judgment, and increased self-efficacy.

Keywords: Adolescent; App; Asthma; Self-Regulation Theory; Self-management; mHealth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Child
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Self Care*
  • Self Efficacy*