ObjectiveTo assess the feasibility of a novel, partnered technology development process to co-create mobile health applications (apps) addressing community health priorities, using psychoeducation of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles for enhancing resilience as an example.
DesignStakeholder engagement, workgroups, pilot feasibility study using mixed methods during October 2013 through January 2016 over three phases: 1) defining the vision of the project and increasing technical capacity, 2) co-development and pilot testing of the app, and 3) planning for sustainability.
SettingAn academic-community partnership in South Los Angeles, California.
ParticipantsEight stakeholders; 30 pilot participants from the community.
Main outcome measuresQualitative analysis of audio-recordings of the app development process and stakeholder interviews, surveys of stakeholders' perception of the development process, app use data, and feedback from pilot participants.
ResultsThe participatory technology development process resulted in creation and pilot-testing of a resiliency-focused text messaging app. Of the 1,107 messages sent, 23 out of 30 (77%) app users responded to explore interactive content. Stakeholders reported increased perceived competency in creating mobile apps and that the process fostered a culture of co-leadership. There was also sustained engagement in mobile app development by stakeholders beyond the initial project period.
ConclusionsThis is the first study, to our knowledge, to demonstrate the feasibility of participatory technology development, an approach involving direct participation in the development, tailoring and maintenance of a mobile app by a broad set of stakeholders with high representation from racial/ethnic minorities from an under-resourced community. Participatory technology development is a promising approach for creating sustainable, relevant and engaging health technologies across different technological, clinical and community settings.