MyTrack+ Project: Paper on notification designs in mHealth apps accepted to CHI 2021 Late-Breaking Work

The INIT Lab and the Ruiz HCI Lab have been collaborating with Dr. Kathryn Ross in the College of Public Health and Health Professions at UF to investigate research questions related to Mobile Health (mHealth) applications on the MyTrack+ project (Project STAR). The World Health Organization defines Mobile Health (mHealth) as the use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives [1]. In our context, we are interested in how mHealth apps enable users to more easily self-monitor to achieve their health-related goals, such as activity, food, medication, or other personal tracking. Apps’ push notifications (e.g., reminders for health-related tasks) can increase users’ engagement with the apps and their adherence to health objectives [2,3]. As a first step, we explored if there was a gap between notification design recommendations in the literature and practice for mHealth app notifications. We are pleased to share that our paper “A Survey of Notification Designs in Commercial mHealth Apps” was accepted to ACM SIGCHI 2021 as a Late-Breaking Work.

Here is the abstract:

“Mobile health (mHealth) apps can support users’ behavioral changes towards healthier habits (e.g., increasing activity) through goal setting, self-monitoring, and notifications. In particular, mHealth app notifications can aid in behavioral change through increasing user app engagement and adherence to health objectives. Previous studies have established empirically-derived notification design recommendations; however, prior work has shown that few mHealth apps are grounded in advised health behavior theories. Therefore, we wanted to examine if there was also a gap between recommendations and practice for mHealth notifications. We surveyed 50 mHealth apps and found a disconnect in several areas (e.g., tailoring, interactivity). Our findings show that mHealth apps can be improved to further support users’ health goals. We discuss open research questions in the context of mHealth notifications.”

Interested readers can find the camera-ready version available here and the poster available here.

The work we present in this paper is the first step towards answering research questions about how mHealth apps can be improved to help users achieve their health goals. Based on the results, our next step is to investigate how the design of notifications, such as notification occurrence and notification content, can affect users’ engagement with mHealth apps. Stay tuned!


  1. WHO Global Observatory for eHealth. 2011. mHealth: New Horizons for Health Through Mobile Technologies: Second Global Survey on eHealth.
  2. Frank Bentley and Konrad Tollmar. 2013. The power of mobile notifications to increase wellbeing logging behavior. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’13), ACM, 1095–1098.
  3. Niranjan Bidargaddi, Daniel Almirall, Susan Murphy, Inbal Nahum-Shani, Michael Kovalcik, Timothy Pituch, Haitham Maaieh, and Victor Strecher. 2018. To prompt or not to prompt? A microrandomized trial of time-varying push notifications to increase proximal engagement with a mobile health app. JMIR mHealth and uHealth 6, 11, e10123.