Objective: The purpose of this research was to conduct the first stages of a user-centered design of a smartphone app designed to improve health behaviors among participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in Texas.
Methods: Focus groups explored facilitators and barriers to health behaviors, current use of apps, and desired features in a WIC app.
Results: Facilitators to improve health behaviors included access to information, support from healthcare practitioners and family, and implementation of strategies. Current app use themes included texting/chatting, accessing information, tracking/locating, planning/scheduling, sharing, and gaming. Frequencies of key themes within and across groups were used to inform app prototype design. Mock-ups of 15 prototype features were developed based on themes of facilitators and currently used app features. Participants agreed that having all features combined into a single WIC app would be convenient and provide trustworthy information from WIC.
Conclusions: The enthusiasm of focus group participants for a comprehensive WIC app suggests that this initiative is timely, and that an app has potential to improve health behaviors. Future research should continue the user-centered design process through further evaluation of prototype features, incorporating cultural preferences at every step.