Assessing User Engagement of an mHealth Intervention: Development and Implementation of the Growing Healthy App Engagement Index.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
JMIR Mhealth Uhealth, 2017, 5 (6), pp. e89 - ?
Issue Date:
2017-06-29
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BACKGROUND: Childhood obesity is an ongoing problem in developed countries that needs targeted prevention in the youngest age groups. Children in socioeconomically disadvantaged families are most at risk. Mobile health (mHealth) interventions offer a potential route to target these families because of its relatively low cost and high reach. The Growing healthy program was developed to provide evidence-based information on infant feeding from birth to 9 months via app or website. Understanding user engagement with these media is vital to developing successful interventions. Engagement is a complex, multifactorial concept that needs to move beyond simple metrics. OBJECTIVE: The aim of our study was to describe the development of an engagement index (EI) to monitor participant interaction with the Growing healthy app. The index included a number of subindices and cut-points to categorize engagement. METHODS: The Growing program was a feasibility study in which 300 mother-infant dyads were provided with an app which included 3 push notifications that was sent each week. Growing healthy participants completed surveys at 3 time points: baseline (T1) (infant age ≤3 months), infant aged 6 months (T2), and infant aged 9 months (T3). In addition, app usage data were captured from the app. The EI was adapted from the Web Analytics Demystified visitor EI. Our EI included 5 subindices: (1) click depth, (2) loyalty, (3) interaction, (4) recency, and (5) feedback. The overall EI summarized the subindices from date of registration through to 39 weeks (9 months) from the infant's date of birth. Basic descriptive data analysis was performed on the metrics and components of the EI as well as the final EI score. Group comparisons used t tests, analysis of variance (ANOVA), Mann-Whitney, Kruskal-Wallis, and Spearman correlation tests as appropriate. Consideration of independent variables associated with the EI score were modeled using linear regression models. RESULTS: The overall EI mean score was 30.0% (SD 11.5%) with a range of 1.8% - 57.6%. The cut-points used for high engagement were scores greater than 37.1% and for poor engagement were scores less than 21.1%. Significant explanatory variables of the EI score included: parity (P=.005), system type including "app only" users or "both" app and email users (P<.001), recruitment method (P=.02), and baby age at recruitment (P=.005). CONCLUSIONS: The EI provided a comprehensive understanding of participant behavior with the app over the 9-month period of the Growing healthy program. The use of the EI in this study demonstrates that rich and useful data can be collected and used to inform assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of the app and in turn inform future interventions.
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