Background: The overwhelming majority of strokes can be prevented via optimal vascular risk factor control. However, there remains an evidence practice gap with regard to treatment of vascular risk factors. With the rapid growth worldwide in cell-phone use, Internet connectivity, and digital health technology, mobile health (mHealth) technology may offer a promising approach to bridge these treatment gaps and reduce the global burden of stroke.
Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of mHealth in vascular risk factor control through a systemic review and meta-analysis.
Methods: We searched PubMed from January 1, 2000 to May 17, 2016 using keywords: mobile health, mhealth, short message, cellular phone, mobile phone, stroke prevention and control, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and smoking cessation. We performed a meta-analysis of all eligible randomized control clinical trials that assessed the long-term (at 6 months) effect of mHealth.
Results: Of 79 articles identified, 13 of them met eligibility criteria (6 for glycemic control and 7 for smoking cessation) and were included for the final meta-analysis. There were no eligible studies for dyslipidemia or hypertension. mHealth resulted in greater HbA1c reduction at 6 months (6 studies; 663 subjects; SMD: -0.44; 95% CI: [-0.82, -0.06], P=0.02; Mean difference of decrease in HbA1c: -0.39%; 95% CI: [-0.74,-0.04], P=0.03). mHealth also led to relatively higher smoking abstinence rates at 6 months (7 studies; 9,514 subjects; OR: 1.54; 95% CI: [1.24, 1.90], P<0.0001).
Conclusion: Use of mHealth improves glycemic control and smoking abstinence rates, two factors that may lead to better stroke outcomes. Future mHealth studies should focus on modifying premier vascular risk factors like hypertension, specifically in people with or at risk of stroke.