Worldwide, hypertension control rates remain suboptimal despite clinically effective antihypertensive drug therapy. Patient failure to take medication as prescribed (ie, nonadherence) is the most important factor contributing to poor control. Smartphone apps can facilitate the delivery of evidence-based behavior change techniques to improve adherence and may provide a scalable, usable, and feasible method to deliver self-management support.
The aim of this study is to explore patients' experiences of the usability and feasibility of smartphone apps to support self-management and improve medication adherence in hypertension.
A qualitative descriptive study was conducted. A total of 11 people living with hypertension from the West of Ireland were sampled purposively and interviewed about their experience of using a self-management app for a 4-week period, which included two key functionalities: self-monitoring of blood pressure (BP) and medication reminders. Thematic analysis was carried out on the semistructured interview data.
Participants' age ranged from 43 to 74 years (mean 62 years, SD 9.13). Three themes were identified: digital empowerment of self-management, human versus digital systems, and digital sustainability. Although patients' experience of using the technology to self-monitor BP was one of empowerment, characterized by an enhanced insight and understanding into their condition, control, and personal responsibility, the reminder function was only feasible for patients who reported unintentional nonadherence to treatment. Patients experienced the app as a sustainable tool to support self-management and found it easy to use, including those with limited technological competence.
The study's findings provide new insights into the experience of using apps to support medication adherence in hypertension. Overall, the data support apps as a usable and feasible method to aid self-management of hypertension and highlight the need for personalized functionality, particularly with regard to medication adherence reminder strategies. The study's findings challenge the perspective that the use of these technologies to support self-management can inevitably add to the burden of treatment experienced by patients.