Evidence for Change

In our Evidence for Change series, we provide a brief overview of key behavioral science research that Atlantis Health applies in supporting patients living with long-term conditions to achieve optimal health outcomes and Change for Good.


Research selected

"Cross-Cutting mHealth Behavior Change Techniques to Support Treatment Adherence and Self-Management of Complex Medical Conditions: Systematic Review" Eaton, C. K., McWilliams, E., Yablon, D., Kesim, I., Ge, R., Mirus, K., Sconiers, T., Donkoh, A., Lawrence, M., George, C., Morrison, M. L., Muther, E., Oates, G. R., Sathe, M., Sawicki, G. S., Snell, C., & Riekert, K. (2024). JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 12, e49024. 

Relevance today

Challenge: Mobile health (mHealth) applications can be powerful facilitators of patient support and behavior change for those living with long-term conditions, delivering targeted interventions through engaging, accessible, and user-friendly platforms.

As these technologies continue to evolve, more evidence is emerging to support effective implementation of mHealth to support medication adherence as well as other self-management behaviors related to chronic health conditions

This 2024 paper identifies commonly used behavior change techniques (BCTs) in effective mHealth interventions targeting medication adherence and self-management behaviors across various complex medical conditions including diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis and autoimmune diseases.

mHealth is defined here as medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, including mobile phones, monitoring devices, and other wireless personal devices. 

What the research tells us

The review analyzed 122 peer-reviewed studies (75 randomized controlled trials and 47 nonrandomized studies) spanning 13 complex health conditions.

There were differences noted in which BCTs were most commonly used in effective medication adherence interventions versus those designed to support self-management behaviors. As well, the authors noted differences in which BCTs were most commonly used depending on the age of target users. 

Based on this review, the most commonly used BCTs for mHealth interventions targeting medication adherence specifically were:  

Feedback on behavior + outcomes of behavior

Credible source

Prompts and cues

Self-monitoring of outcomes of behavior

While it does identify commonly used techniques in studies to date, this review highlights the importance of selecting BCTs that consider the target behavior, as well as the user (e.g., adults or younger users). The authors also acknowledge other BCTs may be as or more effective but were rarely used in the reviewed studies.

Collaborations between behavioral scientists, care teams, patients, caregivers, and industry could answer the 'unknowns' about mHealth behavior change techniques and produce mHealth solutions that are transformative and effective.

Applying the research

Overall, this review shows the effectiveness of mHealth interventions in supporting people living with complex health conditions when behavior change techniques are carefully selected and integrated into the design and delivery of the support ecosystem

Atlantis Health employs a multidisciplinary approach to bring together best practices in health psychology and mHealth behavioral design in solutions that target patient engagement and adherence to medications and other health behaviors across long-term health conditions.