Background The CMO of England recently recommended Vitamin D supplementation for the whole population during the autumn and winter months (1). Current uptake is known to be poor with potential risk to future health (2). Health apps may be a useful source of information for consumers.
Aims To evaluate the quality of currently available Vitamin D smartphone apps specifically targeting children’s health.
Methods Vitamin D apps on iOS and Android mobile smartphones systems were categorised according to their aims. A Pubmed and Google Scholar search identified the criteria necessary for high quality health apps and a validated mobile applications rating scale (MARS). An adapted MARS (3) was used to score the apps for standard of information quality by 3 independent health professional raters.
Results Measures for high quality health apps include content quality, accuracy and reliability, links to clinical input and evidence based guidelines or practice, app validation under real world conditions, addressing technical quality (eg. functional bugs; patient consent), and behavioural and strategy index scoring. Of a total of 72 Vitamin D apps (51 iOS; 21 Android), only one iOS app was identified supporting child healthcare, designed by a research institute affiliated with a Children’s Hospital for exclusive use by its patients/carers. This app provides referenced condition specific information and incorporates daily text reminders for parents to ensure good compliance with required administration of Vitamin D doses to the child. The app is used as part of the holistic care package delivered to these children by their secondary care based multi-disciplinary specialist health professional team and scored highly for information quality (MARS 22). An osteoporosis healthcare app scored higher (MARS 26) but is restricted for use by clinicians and is not child specific.
Conclusion Our work identified a single high quality Vitamin D app designed specifically to act as a reminder tool for parents with children requiring daily doses, used within a specialist hospital setting There is no high quality app available to support routine supplementation.
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