Usability of a Consumer Health Informatics Tool Following Completion of a Clinical Trial: Focus Group Study

J Med Internet Res. 2020 Jun 15;22(6):e17708. doi: 10.2196/17708.


Background: Mobile health (mHealth) apps have the potential to be effective tools for encouraging patients with chronic diseases to self-manage their health. The success of mHealth apps is related to technology acceptance and its subsequent use by intended consumers. Therefore, it is essential to gain insights from consumers' perspectives about their use of mHealth apps in daily life.

Objective: The purpose of this work was to understand consumers' perspectives on use of a self-management app following completion of a clinical trial that tested the efficacy of the app for improving health outcomes.

Methods: We conducted five focus groups with paricipants of a clinical trial (NCT03182738) who were randomized to use the video information provider (VIP) for HIV-associated nonAIDS (HANA) conditions app (VIP-HANA) or an attention control app. Thematic analysis was conducted, and the themes were organized according to the two key constructs of the technology acceptance model framework: perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use.

Results: Thirty-nine people living with HIV (20 from the intervention group and 19 from the control group) participated in the focus group sessions. Of the eight themes identified from focus group data, the five themes related to perceived usefulness were: (1) self-monitoring HIV-related symptoms of HANA conditions, (2) enhanced relationship with clinical providers, (3) improvement in physical and emotional health, (4) long-term impact of self-care strategies on improvement in symptoms of HANA conditions, and (5) inspired lifestyle changes to manage symptoms. The three themes related to perceived ease of use were: (1) easy to navigate, (2) avatar personalization, and (3) privacy/confidentiality maintained even when changing the location of app use.

Conclusions: Perceived ease of use was similar in both study groups but perceived usefulness differed between study groups. Participants in both study groups found the VIP-HANA app to be useful in monitoring their symptoms and enhancing communication with their clinical care providers. However, only intervention group participants perceived the app to be useful in improving overall health and long-term symptom management. Findings from this study highlight factors that are essential to ensure the usefulness of self-management apps and facilitate sustained use of mHealth apps for people living with chronic illnesses.

Keywords: HANA conditions; HIV-associated nonAIDS (HANA); HIV/AIDS; clinical trial; consumer health informatics tool; mobile Health; mobile apps; self-management; symptom care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Health Informatics / methods*
  • Focus Groups / methods*
  • Humans
  • Telemedicine / methods*

Associated data