Should We Recommend Renal Diet-Related Apps to Our Patients? An Evaluation of the Quality and Health Literacy Demand of Renal Diet-Related Mobile Applications

J Ren Nutr. 2017 Nov;27(6):430-438. doi: 10.1053/j.jrn.2017.06.007.


Objective: Mobile phone applications (apps) are increasingly being used by patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). We sought to describe the main purpose of commonly available renal diet apps and to quantify the accuracy of information, technical quality, and health literacy demand of renal diet apps.

Design: The design was content analysis. All eligible renal diet apps in the Australian Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone, and Blackberry App World were evaluated.

Subjects: Eligible apps were in English and were related to kidney disease in humans (of any type or stage). Exclusion criteria included apps which were prohibited because of password protection.

Main outcome measure: Renal diet information in the apps was compared with evidence-based guidelines for the management of kidney disease to quantify information accuracy. App information was evaluated using the Silberg Scale. Technical quality and health literacy demand were evaluated using the Mobile Application Rating Scale.

Results: A total of 21 apps were eligible for evaluation. The main purpose of these apps was to provide food and nutrition information (57.1%) or for educative purposes for CKD patients (38.1%). Only 47.6% (10/21) of apps contained accurate evidence-based information. Overall, app technical quality was considered acceptable (mean Mobile Application Rating Scale score 3.19 ± 0.35 out of 5), with 80.9% of apps scoring acceptable or greater for app technical quality. Scores for health literacy demand also indicated that most apps (15/21, 71.4%) were acceptable.

Conclusions: A range of apps currently exist that may provide individuals with CKD with useful food and nutrition information or increase their knowledge of the renal diet. These apps are also mainly of acceptable technical quality and health literacy demand. However, caution is required when using renal diet apps because more than half of the apps evaluated were not accurate and evidence based.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Cell Phone
  • Diet*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / diet therapy*
  • Self-Management