Electronic (eHealth) and mobile (mHealth) health interventions can provide a large coverage, and are promising tools to change health behavior (i.e. physical activity, sedentary behavior and healthy eating). However, the determinants of intervention effectiveness in primary prevention has not been explored yet. Therefore, the objectives of this umbrella review were to evaluate intervention effectiveness, to explore the impact of pre-defined determinants of effectiveness (i.e. theoretical foundations, behavior change techniques, social contexts or just-in-time adaptive interventions), and to provide recommendations for future research and practice in the field of primary prevention delivered via e/mHealth technology.
PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science and the Cochrane Library were searched for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (reviews) published between January 1990 and May 2020. Reviews reporting on e/mHealth behavior change interventions in physical activity, sedentary behavior and/or healthy eating for healthy subjects (i.e. subjects without physical or physiological morbidities which would influence the realization of behaviors targeted by the respective interventions) were included if they also investigated respective theoretical foundations, behavior change techniques, social contexts or just-in-time adaptive interventions. ... mehrIncluded studies were ranked concerning their methodological quality and qualitatively synthesized.
The systematic search revealed 11 systematic reviews and meta-analyses of moderate quality. The majority of original research studies within the reviews found e/mHealth interventions to be effective, but the results showed a high heterogeneity concerning assessment methods and outcomes, making them difficult to compare. Whereas theoretical foundation and behavior change techniques were suggested to be potential positive determinants of effective interventions, the impact of social context remains unclear. None of the reviews included just-in-time adaptive interventions.
Findings of this umbrella review support the use of e/mHealth to enhance physical activity and healthy eating and reduce sedentary behavior. The general lack of precise reporting and comparison of confounding variables in reviews and original research studies as well as the limited number of reviews for each health behavior constrains the generalization and interpretation of results. Further research is needed on study-level to investigate effects of versatile determinants of e/mHealth efficiency, using a theoretical foundation and additionally explore the impact of social contexts and more sophisticated approaches like just-in-time adaptive interventions.
The protocol for this umbrella review was a priori registered with PROSPERO: CRD42020147902.