mHealth interventions to improve cancer screening and early detection: A scoping review of reviews

Min Min Tan, Désirée Schliemann, Wilfred Kok Hoe Mok, Devi Mohan, Nur Aisha Mohd Taib, Michael Donnelly, Tin Tin Su

Background: mHealth (mobile health) is medical and public health practice supported by the use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Worldwide, there are about 5.27 billion unique mobile phone users representing 67.1% of the total population, and smartphones account for about three-quarters of the mobile phones in use. The high penetration rate of mobile phone allows timely data collection, transmission and analysis. Thus, mHealth holds great potential in improving health outcomes due to its mobility, instantaneous access and ease of use. However, its role in promoting cancer screening is still underexplored.

Aims: To map and summarise findings from systematic, scoping, narrative and rapid reviews on the use of mHealth in improving cancer screening.

Methods: Ovid MEDLINE, PyschInfo and EMBASE were searched in May 2021.

Results: Our initial search identified 1981 titles of which 12 reviews met the inclusion criteria (six systematic reviews, four scoping reviews, one rapid review and one literature review). The most commonly used mHealth technologies used were text messages and telephone calls. Effective interventions were those that included more than one mode of communication, such as telephone or text reminders in a combination with each other or with invitation letters, health education, navigation services etc. mHealth interventions were also effective in increasing knowledge/awareness about screening, intention to screen, and improving attitudes towards screening. They received high acceptance among participants.

Conclusions: mHealth interventions are effective in increasing cancer screening uptake, practice and other screening-related outcomes such as knowledge and awareness about screening and intention to screen.