Article Abstract

A content analysis of precede-proceed constructs in stress management mobile apps

Authors: Hannah E. Payne, Jessica Wilkinson, Joshua H. West, Jay M. Bernhardt


Background: The emergence of Apple’s iPhone provides a platform for freelance developers to design
third party apps, which greatly expands the functionality and utility of mobile devices for stress management.
This study provides a basic overview of the stress management apps under the health and fitness category of
the Apple App store and appraises each app’s potential for influencing behavior change.
Methods: Data for this study came from a content analysis of health and fitness app descriptions available in
the App Store on iTunes. Trained research assistants used the Precede-Proceed Model (PPM) as a framework
to guide the coding of paid stress management apps and to evaluate each app’s potential for effecting health
behavior change.
Results: Most apps were rated as being plausible (96.9%) and intending to address stress management
(98.5%), but only 63.3% were rated as recommendable to others for their use. Reinforcing apps were less
common than predisposing and enabling apps. Less than one percent (0.39%) of apps included all three
factors (predisposing, enabling and reinforcing).
Conclusions: Practitioners should be cautious when promoting the use of stress management apps, as
most provide only health-related information (predisposing) or suggestions for enabling behavior, but almost
none include all three theoretical factors recommended for behavior change.