Stethoscope on LaptopThe mHealth Technical Evidence Review Group of the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a new mHealth research checklist for the reporting of studies involving mobile health interventions.

The team was led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative, the School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill, the School of Nursing at UCSF, and other other institutions. They sought to create a standardized approach to the reporting of mobile health interventions to simplify interpretation of this rapidly expanding body of work and help replicate the interventions described in other areas.

We’ve covered a lot of studies describing the use of mobile technology for things like health screening or remote diagnostics. While publishing these studies is important, a common critique is that mobile health is facing a glut of “pilots” that are leading to the kind of evidence needed to expand these interventions, both in their scale and their generalizability.

The mHealth evidence reporting and assessment (mERA) checklist offers a standardized approach to reporting of mHealth studies that clearly defines the intervention (content), the context in which the intervention was tested, and how it was done (technical features). The goal, as described by the authors, is to improve the quality of reporting & facilitate replication.

This mHealth research checklist was created by a group of 18 global mHealth experts who began this work in December 2012. They then piloted the checklist including applying it to prior work & using it in ongoing mobile health research being done by groups at WHO.

The 16-item mHealth research checklist was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) covers areas including infrastructure requirements, technology platform, interoperability requirements, usability/content testing, user feedback, cost assessment, and data security. Each item is accompanied by detailed explanations and example cases to describe reporting.

We often write about the need for rigorous and high quality research in mobile health. The mERA checklist is a useful step supporting that goal and is definitely a must-read for anyone engaging in mobil health research.