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Elements of Social Convoy Theory in Mobile Health for Palliative Care: Scoping Review

Background: Mobile health (mHealth) provides a unique modality for improving access to and awareness of palliative care among patients, families, and caregivers from diverse backgrounds. Some mHealth palliative care apps exist, both commercially available and established by academic researchers. However, the elements of family support and family caregiving tools offered by these early apps is unknown.; Objective: The objective of this scoping review was to use social convoy theory to describe the inclusion and functionality of family, social relationships, and caregivers in palliative care mobile apps.; Methods: Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Review guidelines, a systematic search of palliative care mHealth included (1) research-based mobile apps identified from academic searches published between January 1, 2010, and March 31, 2019 and (2) commercially available apps for app stores in April 2019. Two reviewers independently assessed abstracts, app titles, and descriptions against the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Abstracted data covered app name, research team or developer, palliative care element, target audience, and features for family support and caregiving functionality as defined by social convoy theory.; Results: Overall, 10 articles describing 9 individual research-based apps and 22 commercially available apps were identified. Commercially available apps were most commonly designed for both patients and social convoys, whereas the majority of research apps were designed for patient use only.; Conclusions: Results suggest there is an emerging presence of apps for patients and social convoys receiving palliative care; however, there are many needs for developers and researchers to address in the future. Although palliative care mHealth is a growing field, additional research is needed for apps that embrace a team approach to information sharing, target family- and caregiver-specific issues, promote access to palliative care, and are comprehensive of palliative needs.

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JMIR Publications
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JMIR Mhealth And Uhealth
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