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VicHealth ratings guide shows most effective activity wellness apps

VicHealth ratings guide shows most effective activity wellness apps
November 6, 2016

Physical activity apps that reward users for exercising and mindfulness apps that support those struggling with anxiety and depression are among the top rated apps in the latest VicHealth Healthy Living Apps Guide.

For the second year running, VicHealth has commissioned independent researchers and experts from Deakin University to review more than 300 health and wellbeing smartphone apps and provide star ratings based on user-friendliness and potential for behaviour change.

The 2016 Healthy Living Apps Guide comes as a new VicHealth survey reveals a significant increase in the number of people that consider health and wellbeing apps as trustworthy sources of information.

VicHealth’s 2016 Community Attitudes Survey of 3,113 Australians showed that overall, our trust for health and wellbeing apps increased in 2016 to 45%, up from 40% in 2015.

That’s why now, more than ever, it’s important to find out which health and wellbeing apps are most effective, and which best suit the user and fit with their lifestyle.

The user-friendly VicHealth Healthy Living Apps Guide provides an independent rating of apps that promote healthy eating, promote physical activity, reduce harm from smoking and alcohol, and improve mental wellbeing.

VicHealth Chief Exectuive Jerril Rechter (pictured above) said mobile phone apps have enormous potential to help a wide range of people make better health choices. However until 2015, when VicHealth first began research in this area, there had been no independent, evidence-based review of the quality and effectiveness of these apps, and users should be selective about which apps they trust.

Rechter explained “four out of five Australians own a smartphone and have access to thousands of apps that encourage them to eat better, move more, quit smoking, drink less alcohol and manage stress levels

“With so many apps to choose from, people often struggle to find one that’s effective in helping them change their behaviour in a way that will help them live a healthier life.

“The overall star rating we’ve provided for each of these apps considers functionality (user-friendliness) and potential for behaviour change (how effective they’re likely to be in helping someone adopt a healthier lifestyle) to help people navigate the thousands of health and wellbeing apps out there.

“The right app can be effective in helping people adopt healthier lifestyles, but we caution placing too much trust in these apps. It might surprise users to learn that the majority of apps have been given a behaviour change rating of 1 star or less out of five.

“We’re also encouraging software companies to use our new guidelines for app developers to help them design better products. Ultimately we’re trying to give people the information they need to make better decisions for their own health, in the most effective way.”

2016 Top ten apps by Overall Star Rating (which considers functionality and behaviour change combined)

VicHealth’s Healthy Living Apps Guide for consumers, as well as the guidelines for app developers, is available at www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/apps.

For more information on the rating process go to www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/media-andresources/apps-rating-process 

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