Developing a smartphone application to support social connectedness and wellbeing in young people with cystic fibrosis

J Cyst Fibros. 2020 Mar;19(2):277-283. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2019.12.011. Epub 2020 Jan 6.


Background: Young people with cystic fibrosis (CF) may be at increased risk of social isolation and mental illness. This study aimed to design and evaluate the usability and acceptability of a smartphone application (app) to support the social connectedness and wellbeing of young people living with CF.

Methods: Young people with CF aged 12-17 years (N = 22) were recruited from two paediatric hospitals in Australia. Study participants tested the CF app for six weeks before responding to an online survey about the app's usability and acceptability. A subsample of participants (n = 20) discussed the app's strengths and weaknesses during 11 online group interviews.

Results: During the six-week testing period, 77% of participants used the app at least once a week and 82% accessed the app from a smartphone. Usability of the CF app was rated high. Most participants agreed the app was easy to use (86%) and felt comfortable using it (96%). Acceptability of the app was moderate. 77% of participants agreed they would recommend the app to others. Recommendations to improve the app's functionality and acceptability included locating the chatroom within the app rather than redirecting users to a web browser and allowing users to personalise images, wellness tips and videos.

Conclusions: This study developed and tested a highly usable, and moderately acceptable, smartphone app to improve the psychosocial health of young people living with CF. Future research will test the efficacy of the CF app on users' social connectedness and wellbeing.

Keywords: Adolescents; Cystic fibrosis; Mobile applications; Smartphone; Young people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't