Apps for individuals diagnosed with breast cancer: a preliminary assessment of the content and quality of commercially available apps in Spanish

Mhealth. 2021 Jan 20;7:2. doi: 10.21037/mhealth-19-191. eCollection 2021.


Background: many apps are directly related to health issues. Recent studies show that apps are widely accepted by the population and contribute to the modernization of the healthcare system. However, before recommendation, their contents and quality should be assessed, as well as the behavioral change techniques they include. In Spain, no study has been found to determine which apps are aimed at addressing any aspect of breast cancer. The objective of this study was to identify and describe the contents and analyze the quality and behavior change strategies of the free applications available in the online stores of Android and Apple whose main purpose is related to some aspect of breast cancer.

Methods: Searches were conducted in the Apple App and Google Play stores in Spain, between October 2018 and February 2019, using an Apple iPad Pro and a Samsung Galaxy Tab A6. The Spanish search terms used were: "cáncer de mama" [breast cancer], "cáncer de pecho" [breast cancer], "cáncer de seno" [breast cancer], "tumor de mama" [breast tumor], "tumor de pecho" [breast tumor], "tumor de seno" [breast tumor], "neoplasia de mama" [breast neoplasm], "neoplasia de pecho" [breast neoplasm], and "neoplasia de seno" [breast neoplasm]. After screening, contents related to breast cancer, quality, and behavioral change were assessed.

Results: The contents of the 6 selected apps were related to breast self-examination and to the signs and symptoms that may warn the woman of the presence of a breast tumor. The MARS objective and subjective quality scores were 4.11 (SD =0.59) and 3.07 (SD =0.91), respectively. The mean number of BCTs included in the apps was 2.83 (SD =3.040). The app with the highest number of BCTs was APP1, with a total of 9 techniques.

Conclusions: Few free apps are specifically designed for breast cancer in Spanish. Their content and quality, as well as the number of BCTs they include, should be improved.

Keywords: Breast neoplasms; mobile applications; patient-centered care.