mHealth education interventions in heart failure

Sabine Allida, Huiyun Du, Xiaoyue Xu, Roslyn Prichard, Sungwon Chang, Louise D. Hickman, Patricia M. Davidson, Sally C. Inglis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Heart failure (HF) is a chronic disease with significant impact on quality of life and presents many challenges to those diagnosed with the condition, due to a seemingly complex daily regimen of self-care which includes medications, monitoring of weight and symptoms, identification of signs of deterioration and follow-up and interaction with multiple healthcare services. Education is vital for understanding the importance of this regimen, and adhering to it. Traditionally, education has been provided to people with heart failure in a face-to-face manner, either in a community or a hospital setting, using paper-based materials or video/DVD presentations. In an age of rapidly-evolving technology and uptake of smartphones and tablet devices, mHealth-based technology (defined by the World Health Organization as mobile and wireless technologies to achieve health objectives) is an innovative way to provide health education which has the benefit of being able to reach people who are unable or unwilling to access traditional heart failure education programmes and services. Objectives: To systematically review and quantify the potential benefits and harms of mHealth-delivered education for people with heart failure. Search methods: We performed an extensive search of bibliographic databases and registries (CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, IEEE Xplore, and WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) Search Portal), using terms to identify HF, education and mHealth. We searched all databases from their inception to October 2019 and imposed no restriction on language of publication. Selection criteria: We included studies if they were conducted as a randomised controlled trial (RCT), involving adults (≥ 18 years) with a diagnosis of HF. We included trials comparing mHealth-delivered education such as internet and web-based education programmes for use on smartphones and tablets (including apps) and other mobile devices, SMS messages and social media-delivered education programmes, versus usual HF care. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently selected studies, assessed risks of bias, and extracted data from all included studies. We calculated the mean difference (MD) or standardised mean difference (SMD) for continuous data and the odds ratio (OR) for dichotomous data with a 95% confidence interval (CI). We assessed heterogeneity using the I2 statistic and assessed the quality of evidence using GRADE criteria. Main results: We include five RCTs (971 participants) of mHealth-delivered education interventions for people with HF in this review. The number of trial participants ranged from 28 to 512 participants. Mean age of participants ranged from 60 years to 75 years, and 63% of participants across the studies were men. Studies originated from Australia, China, Iran, Sweden, and The Netherlands. Most studies included participants with symptomatic HF, NYHA Class II - III. Three studies addressed HF knowledge, revealing that the use of mHealth-delivered education programmes showed no evidence of a difference in HF knowledge compared to usual care (MD 0.10, 95% CI −0.2 to 0.40, P = 0.51, I2 = 0%; 3 studies, 411 participants; low-quality evidence). One study assessing self-efficacy reported that both study groups had high levels of self-efficacy at baseline and uncertainty in the evidence for the intervention (MD 0.60, 95% CI −0.57 to 1.77; P = 0.31; 1 study, 29 participants; very low-quality evidence).Three studies evaluated HF self-care using different scales. We did not pool the studies due to the heterogenous nature of the outcome measures, and the evidence is uncertain. None of the studies reported adverse events. Four studies examined health-related quality of life (HRQoL). There was uncertainty in the evidence for the use of mHealth-delivered education on HRQoL (MD −0.10, 95% CI −2.35 to 2.15; P = 0.93, I2 = 61%; 4 studies, 942 participants; very low-quality evidence). Three studies reported on HF-related hospitalisation. The use of mHealth-delivered education may result in little to no difference in HF-related hospitalisation (OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.52 to 1.06; P = 0.10, I2 = 0%; 3 studies, 894 participants; low-quality evidence). We downgraded the quality of the studies due to limitations in study design and execution, heterogeneity, wide confidence intervals and fewer than 500 participants in the analysis. Authors' conclusions: We found that the use of mHealth-delivered educational interventions for people with HF shows no evidence of a difference in HF knowledge; uncertainty in the evidence for self-efficacy, self-care and health-related quality of life; and may result in little to no difference in HF-related hospitalisations. The identification of studies currently underway and those awaiting classification indicate that this is an area of research from which further evidence will emerge in the short and longer term.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD011845
Number of pages83
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2020


  • heart failure (HF)
  • mHealth
  • Randomised controlled trial


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