An Evaluation of Publicly Available Smartphone Apps to Support Unpaid Cancer Caregivers



      With advancements in mobile technology and increased access to smartphones, the use of Mobile Health applications (apps) has surged. These apps provide an innovative avenue for supporting cancer caregivers who face increasing burden and lack formal support; however, the quality of these apps has not been formally evaluated.


      Evaluate the quality, usefulness, therapeutic potential, and security of publicly available apps to support unpaid cancer caregivers in managing their roles and responsibilities.


      Cancer caregiving apps were identified through a search of the Apple and Google Play stores in October 2020. Two authors evaluated the apps using 1) the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) tool for quality, 2) complementary sections of Enlight for therapeutic persuasiveness and alliance, security and privacy, and 3) an unmet needs checklist to assess usefulness. Analyses were undertaken to identify high-scoring apps.


      Overall, 24 apps were evaluated by two authors (MB, SW). Across the sample, the mean quality score (MARS) was adequate at 65.7% (3.3/5.0, SD = .5, range: 2.3–4.2). The combined score for therapeutic persuasiveness and alliance (Enlight) was fair at 60.7% (3.0/5.0, SD = .8, range: 1.1–4.5), and the privacy and security checklists yielded means of 79.3% (6.3/8.0, SD = 1.4, range: 50.0%–100.0%) and 41.3% (1.7/4.0, SD = 1.4, range: 0.0–100.0%), respectively. The unmet needs checklist was 43.2% (SD = 5.3, range: 9.4%–69.7%). A hierarchical cluster analysis identified 12 high scoring apps.


      Superior cluster apps scored acceptably for quality and privacy and low for security and usefulness. Findings will assist clinicians, caregivers, and families identify apps to support cancer caregivers.

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