About mHealth Evidence
Mobile health, or mHealth, is broadly the use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the delivery and utilization of health care services. mHealth is a young field and a limited evidence base exists for demonstrating its efficacy, effectiveness and comparative effectiveness, especially its cost-effectiveness.
There are several compounding factors leading to this situation:
• The evidence that does exist is not necessarily readily available—some resides in peer-reviewed literature, but much of it also resides in grey literature including blog posts, presentations, mailing list discussions and other informal sources
• There is anecdotal evidence that well-written papers are not being accepted by health journals due to confusion from publishers about whether mHealth is a “health” or “IT” intervention
• Even when evidence is available, it is not always easy to gauge the strength of it
• The evidence base is growing rapidly and it is difficult for individuals to keep up-to-date
The lack of a well-understood, rigorous base of evidence for mHealth leads to several challenges:
• Ministries of Health, multilateral institutions and donors are unable to make informed decisions about which interventions warrant additional investment for research or implementation and scale-up
• Implementers are not sure which solutions and specific features to include in their programs to maximize effectiveness and produce the highest health impact
• Researchers have difficulty knowing where to focus their research efforts
The end result is reduced effectiveness and efficiency:
• Scarce human and financial resources may be wasted on interventions that have already been shown to be ineffective in improving health outcomes or not cost-effective
• Evidence-based activities may not receive the funding they deserve due to a lack of awareness regarding their efficacy or effectiveness
• Interventions may be of poor quality due to a failure to incorporate known best practices or to learn from past failures
In order to address the core challenge of a limited evidence base, the mHealth Evidence website was developed to be the leading resource for cataloging, categorizing and grading mHealth evidence. This site contains both peer-reviewed and grey literature on mHealth activities in developed and developing countries and is curated with sources proactively identified or included based on request. Material is classified using a harmonized taxonomy to be easily filtered and searchable to facilitate the identification of evidence-based, high-impact mHealth practices.