Here's something I prepared earlier: a review of the time to publication of cross-sectional reviews of smartphone health apps
ObjectivesAcross a range of health conditions, apps are increasingly valued as tools for supporting the delivery and coordination of healthcare. Research-led cross-sectional reviews of apps are a potential resource to inform app selection in face of uncertainties around content quality, safety and privacy. However, these peer-reviewed publications only capture a snapshot of highly dynamic app stores and marketplaces. To determine the extent to which marketplace dynamics might impact the
... tation of app reviews, the current study sought to quantify the lag between the reported time of app assessment and publication of the results of these studies.DesignSearches were conducted on MEDLINE, Embase and PsycINFO to identify published cross-sectional reviews of health, fitness or wellness apps. Publication timeline metadata were extracted, allowing the primary outcome measure, the delay between app store search and manuscript publication, to be calculated. A secondary measure, the time between search and manuscript submission, was also calculated where possible.ResultsAfter screening, 136 relevant cross-sectional app review studies were analysed. The median time to publication was 431 days (approximately 14 months, range: 42–1054 days). The median time to submission was 269 days (approximately 9 months, range: 5–874 days). Studies which downloaded apps typically took longer to publish (p=0.010), however the number of apps reviewed did not impact the time to publication (p=0.964). Studies which recommended specific apps were not published more rapidly (p=0.998).ConclusionsMost health app reviews present data that are at least a year out-of-date at the time of publication. Given the high rate of turnover of health apps in public marketplaces, it may not be appropriate, therefore, for these reviews to be presented as a resource concerning specific products for commissioners, clinicians and the public. Alternative sources of information may be better calibrated to the dynamics of the app marketplace.