A review of the quality and content of mobile apps to support lifestyle modifications following a transient ischaemic attack or 'minor' stroke

Seán R O'Connor, Frank Kee, David R Thompson, Margaret E Cupples, Michael Donnelly, Neil Heron

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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OBJECTIVE: Secondary prevention is recommended to reduce cardiovascular risk after transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or 'minor' stroke. Mobile health interventions can provide accessible, cost-effective approaches to address modifiable risk factors, such as physical inactivity, hypertension and being overweight. The objective of this study was to evaluate the quality of apps for supporting lifestyle change following a TIA or 'minor' stroke.

METHODS: Systematic searches of Google Play and the Apple Store were carried out to identify mobile apps released between 1 November 2019 and 1 October 2021. Keywords were used including stroke, TIA, lifestyle, prevention and recovery. Quality was assessed using the Mobile Application Rating Scale (MARS). Common components were identified with the Behaviour Change Technique (BCT) Taxonomy. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the performance results for each app.

RESULTS: Searches identified 2545 potential apps. Thirty remained after removing duplicates and screening titles and descriptions. Six were eligible after full review of their content. All apps included at least one BCT (range: 1-16 BCTs). The most frequent BCTs included 'information about health consequences' (n = 5/6), 'verbal or visual communication from a credible source' (n = 4/6) and 'action planning' (n = 4/6). The mean MARS score was 2.57/5 (SD: 0.51; range: 1.78-3.36). No apps were of 'good' overall quality (scoring more than 4/5).

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first review of mobile health interventions for this population. Only a small number of apps were available. None were targeted specifically at people with a TIA or 'minor' stroke. Overall quality was low. Further work is needed to develop and test accessible, user designed, and evidence-informed digital interventions in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalDigital Health
Early online date15 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Mobile apps
  • mHealth
  • systematic review
  • transient ischaemic attack
  • 'minor' stroke
  • secondary prevention


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