Evaluation of Breastfeeding App Features: Content Analysis Study

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3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: While a variety of health apps abound, less than half of adults in the United States report using a health app, despite the ubiquity of smartphones among users aged 18 to 49 years. Several studies have examined the use of breastfeeding apps; however, less is known about the types of features found on these apps and what factors might influence app ratings. Objective: This paper seeks to characterize breastfeeding apps, assess whether apps with higher user ratings differ from apps with lower user ratings in their tracking and nontracking features, and analyze whether the type and number of features predict user star ratings and whether an app is higher- or lower-rated. Methods: Using a cross-sectional design, a convenience sample of breastfeeding apps was culled from the Apple App Store (iOS) and Google Play Store (Android). Content analysis of the apps (N=82) was conducted using a schema of 87 items, which was then compiled into 9 topical indices for breastfeeding, bottle feeding, solid foods, infant health, infant care, technical characteristics, informatics, informational characteristics, and interactivity. Analysis consisted of descriptive statistics, the Mann-Whitney U test, and Spearman rank correlations. Linear regression and binary logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine which features predicted user star ratings. Results: On average, users rated breastfeeding apps 4.4 of 5 stars. Two-thirds of apps (n=54) were higher rated (≥4.5 stars), and one-third (n=28) were lower rated (<4.5 stars). Higher-rated apps offered more tracking features for breastfeeding, bottle feeding, solid foods, infant health, and infant care than lower-rated apps. The breastfeeding, solid-food, and technical indices explained 17% of user star ratings. For each additional breastfeeding and solid-food feature, we can expect to see a 27% and 35% increase, respectively, in user star ratings. Additionally, as the number of solid-food features increased, the odds that the app is higher rated increased 1.58 times. Conclusions: Our findings suggest user ratings are driven in part by tracking features, specifically those related to breastfeeding and solid foods. The proliferation of mobile health apps offers opportunities for parents and caregivers to track behaviors associated with infant feeding and other health metrics in a dynamic, detailed, and comprehensive manner. Hence, breastfeeding apps have the potential to promote and support breastfeeding among users.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere37581
JournalJMIR Pediatrics and Parenting
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • bottle feeding
  • breastfeeding
  • breastmilk expression
  • consumer health informatics
  • cross-sectional study
  • infant care
  • infant food
  • infant health
  • mobile apps
  • smartphone

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