Effectiveness of a mobile health and self-management app for high-risk patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in daily clinical practice: Mixed methods evaluation study

Laura Kooij, Petra J.E. Vos, Antoon Dijkstra, Wim H. van Harten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Mobile health and self-management interventions may positively affect behavioral change and reduce hospital admissions for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, not all patients qualify for these interventions, and systematic, comprehensive information on implementation- and compliance-related aspects of mobile self-management apps is lacking. Due to the tendency to target digital services to patients in stable phases of disease, it is especially relevant to focus on the use of these services in broad clinical practice for patients recently discharged from hospital. Objective: This study aims to evaluate the effects of a mobile health and self-management app in clinical practice for recently discharged patients with COPD on use of the app, self-management, expectations, and experiences (technology acceptance); patients’ and nurses’ satisfaction; and hospital readmissions. Methods: A prototype of the app was pilot tested with 6 patients with COPD. The COPD app consisted of an 8-week program including the Lung Attack Action Plan, education, medication overview, video consultation, and questionnaires (monitored by nurses). In the feasibility study, adult patients with physician-diagnosed COPD, access to a mobile device, and proficiency of the Dutch language were included from a large teaching hospital during hospital admission. Self-management (Partners in Health Scale), technology acceptance (Unified Theory Acceptance and Use of Technology model), and satisfaction were assessed using questionnaires at baseline, after 8 weeks, and 20 weeks. Use was assessed with log data, and readmission rates were extracted from the electronic medical record. Results: A total of 39 patients were included; 76.4% (133/174) of patients had to be excluded from participation, and 48.9% of those patients (65/133) were excluded because of lack of digital skills, access to a mobile device, or access to the internet. The COPD app was opened most often in the first week (median 6.0; IQR 3.5-10.0), but its use decreased over time. The self-management element knowledge and coping increased significantly over time (P=.04). The COPD app was rated on a scale of 1-10, with an average score by patients of 7.7 (SD 1.7) and by nurses of 6.3 (SD 1.2). Preliminary evidence about the readmission rate showed that 13% (5/39) of patients were readmitted within 30 days; 31% (12/39) of patients were readmitted within 20 weeks, compared with 14.1% (48/340) and 21.8% (74/340) in a preresearch cohort, respectively. Conclusions: The use of a mobile self-management app after hospital discharge seems to be feasible only for a small number of patients with COPD. Patients were satisfied with the service; however, use decreased over time, and only knowledge and coping changed significantly over time. Therefore, future research on digital self-management interventions in clinical practice should focus on including more difficult subgroups of target populations, a multidisciplinary approach, technology-related aspects (such as acceptability), and fine-tuning its adoption in clinical pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21977
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2021


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • MHealth
  • Mobile app
  • Mobile phone
  • Self-management


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