A UOC research group is looking for volunteers to test a new application that assesses health apps

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eHealth Center
Evalapps is a tool for assessing overweight and obesity control apps

COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down and we have suddenly found ourselves immersed in a situation that none of us have experienced before: a total lockdown that has lasted almost two months. Since March, our lives have been limited to what we can do at home. In many cases, this has caused a sensation of reclusion, anxiety or stress. If to these sensations we add the lack of mobility and increased eating between meals, it is possible that many of us are putting on weight.

Although no official studies have been published yet, a number of researchers suggest that the Spanish population will gain an average of three kilogrammes. This figure is very similar to that found in an online survey of more than 3,000 French people performed by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) and Darwin Nutrition between 24 and 27 April. As a result, over the next few months, many people may become concerned about their weight and need or want to keep it in check in order to avoid the health risks associated with uncontrolled weight gain.

Mobile apps are one of the strategies used. Many people may download weight control apps, follow a diet or practise sport and eat more healthily. As there are so many apps available, it is not easy to choose one that is suitable and there is no protocol for knowing which one is best for what we want or need. To help people make the right choice, an interdisciplinary group of health professionals, led by the project's principal investigator, Carme Carrion, member of the eHealth Center and professor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya's (UOC) Faculty of Health Sciences, has created Evalapps, a mobile app that assesses the weight control apps that are currently available on the market. The project is now in the final phase and they are looking for 300 volunteers to test it.

If you would like to take part as a volunteer, contact Carme Carrion at mcarrionr@uoc.edu and you will be sent a password to access the application. Carrion stresses that personal data protection is guaranteed as the test "asks for very few data and processing is very secure". After being accepted for the test, participants will be asked to download a specific weight management app, which will be assigned randomly from among three chosen by the project's clinical team, and will use it for 15 days. At the end of the two-week period, the volunteers will score the app they have tested on Evalapps, answering questions about different aspects, such as whether the app is easy to use or if the messages are easy to understand.


Finding a health app tailored for each situation

The interdisciplinary team wants to find answers for questions such as which apps are backed by scientific evidence. They also want Evalapps to be a tool that helps both health professionals and users choose the app best suited for each condition, situation and individual. Since it started in 2017, the project's goal has been to help people know which apps are useful and are backed by solid scientific evidence since, "at present, professionals cannot make any recommendations with confidence, because there are no specific regulations for this type of app," Carrion explained.

Evalapps is a project funded by the Charles III Health Institute, the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It will end in December with a presentation of the results. The following UOC eHealth Center researchers are taking part: Carme Carrion, who is the project's coordinator, Noem Robles and Francesc Saig, who is also a professor at the UOC's Faculty of Health Sciences and director of the WHO's Collaborating Centre for Digital Health. The other members of the team are the nutritionist Mariona Balfeg; Guillem Cuatrecasas, an endocrinologist at the CPEN-Clnica Sagrada Famlia; Montse Moharra and Elisa Puigdomnech, who are experts in the assessment of medical technologies at the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Assessment of Catalonia; Guillermo Paluzie, head of the Healthcare Documentation and Information Service at the Maresme and La Selva Health Corporation; and Alberto Zamora, an internal medicine doctor at Blanes Hospital.




Photograph of Carme Carrion

Carme Carrion Ribas

Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences

Expert in: Evaluation of mobile health interventions (apps, sensors, wearables, etc) as regards their effectiveness and efficiency.

Knowledge area: Digital health and evaluating healthcare projects.

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