Digital Health Technologies for Long-term Self-management of Osteoporosis: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Ghada Alhussein, Leontios Hadjileontiadis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Osteoporosis is the fourth most common chronic disease worldwide. The adoption of preventative measures and effective self-management interventions can help improve bone health. Mobile health (mHealth) technologies can play a key role in the care and self-management of patients with osteoporosis. Objective: This study presents a systematic review and meta-analysis of the currently available mHealth apps targeting osteoporosis self-management, aiming to determine the current status, gaps, and challenges that future research could address, as well as propose appropriate recommendations. Methods: A systematic review of all English articles was conducted, in addition to a survey of all apps available in iOS and Android app stores as of May 2021. A comprehensive literature search (2010 to May 2021) of PubMed, Scopus, EBSCO, Web of Science, and IEEE Xplore was conducted. Articles were included if they described apps dedicated to or useful for osteoporosis (targeting self-management, nutrition, physical activity, and risk assessment) delivered on smartphone devices for adults aged ≥18 years. Of the 32 articles, a random effects meta-analysis was performed on 13 (41%) studies of randomized controlled trials, whereas the 19 (59%) remaining studies were only included in the narrative synthesis as they did not provide enough data. Results: In total, 3906 unique articles were identified. Of these 3906 articles, 32 (0.81%) articles met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed in depth. The 32 studies comprised 14,235 participants, of whom, on average, 69.5% (n=9893) were female, with a mean age of 49.8 (SD 17.8) years. The app search identified 23 relevant apps for osteoporosis self-management. The meta-analysis revealed that mHealth-supported interventions resulted in a significant reduction in pain (Hedges g −1.09, 95% CI −1.68 to −0.45) and disability (Hedges g −0.77, 95% CI −1.59 to 0.05). The posttreatment effect of the digital intervention was significant for physical function (Hedges g 2.54, 95% CI −4.08 to 4.08) but nonsignificant for well-being (Hedges g 0.17, 95% CI −1.84 to 2.17), physical activity (Hedges g 0.09, 95% CI −0.59 to 0.50), anxiety (Hedges g −0.29, 95% CI −6.11 to 5.53), fatigue (Hedges g −0.34, 95% CI −5.84 to 5.16), calcium (Hedges g −0.05, 95% CI −0.59 to 0.50), vitamin D intake (Hedges g 0.10, 95% CI −4.05 to 4.26), and trabecular score (Hedges g 0.06, 95% CI −1.00 to 1.12). Conclusions: Osteoporosis apps have the potential to support and improve the management of the disease and its symptoms; they also appear to be valuable tools for patients and health professionals. However, most of the apps that are currently available lack clinically validated evidence of their efficacy and focus on a limited number of symptoms. A more holistic and personalized approach within a cocreation design ecosystem is needed.

Original languageBritish English
Article numbere32557
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • bone health
  • chronic disease
  • digital health
  • meta-analysis
  • mHealth
  • mobile phone
  • nutrition
  • osteoporosis
  • physical activity
  • risk assessment
  • self-management
  • self-management
  • systematic review


Dive into the research topics of 'Digital Health Technologies for Long-term Self-management of Osteoporosis: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this