Examining pregnancy-specific smartphone applications: what are patients being told?

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The objective of this study is to evaluate the informative content of two free, pregnancy-specific smartphone applications and their accuracy and adherence to prenatal care guidelines.

STUDY DESIGN:

This is a qualitative analysis of the information delivered through two free, pregnancy-specific smartphone applications (apps): Text4Baby (T4B) and Baby Center's ‘My Pregnancy Today’ (BC). All information from conception through 2 weeks postpartum were transcribed and coded independently by two physician researchers. Content was analyzed and assigned thematic codes. The proportion of content each app delivered per theme was then calculated and the χ2-test was used to compare thematic frequency between apps.

RESULTS:

A total of 609 pieces of daily content were transcribed; 698 message themes were coded and analyzed. Most information delivered by T4B was about fetal development (23.8%) or prenatal care (16.6%); most content from BC was about normal pregnancy symptoms (20.1%) or maternal well-being (21.1%); the differences between apps for each of these themes were statistically significant (P < 0.05). A total of four messages contained incomplete or ambiguous content; neither app delivered overtly incorrect medical information. T4B and BC had a similar proportion of information that was in-line with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology Guidelines for Prenatal Care. Neither app delivered any messages about contraception.

CONCLUSION:

T4B and BC are free, pregnancy-specific apps with different focuses. Neither app delivers comprehensive prenatal information, as evidenced by the absence of information about postpartum contraception. More information is needed to determine the role of such apps in prenatal care.

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