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Currently submitted to: JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting

Date Submitted: Jun 25, 2019
(currently open for review)

Exploring an Existing Weight Management App for Use with Adolescents and Young Adults with Spina Bifida: Usability Study

  • Colleen Stiles-Shields; 
  • Brittney Garcia; 
  • Stefany Moya; 
  • Kimberly Villota; 
  • Elicia Wartman; 
  • Adrien M. Winning; 
  • Grayson N. Holmbeck



Adolescents and young adults with spina bifida (AYA-SB) have unique user needs, given their variable and complex symptom profile. Due to multiple barriers to prevention and intervention treatments for secondary conditions (e.g., obesity), AYA-SB may benefit from the use of behavioral intervention technologies (BITs). However, as BITs are often designed and tested with typically-developing individuals, it is unclear if existing BITs may be usable for AYA-SB.


The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the usability of a high-quality, publicly-available weight-management focused mobile BIT (smartphone app) for AYA-SB.


Twenty-eight AYA-SB attending a YMCA-based summer camp completed four structured usability tasks using a weight-management app designed for the general public, My Diet Coach. Learnability was measured by: 1) time to complete task, 2) number of errors, and 3) correct entry of data when requested by the app. Satisfaction and general usability were measured via self-report questionnaires and qualitative feedback following interactions with the app.


The majority of the sample were able to complete the tasks, with increased completion rates and improved times on second attempts of the tasks (Ps < .05). Errors were common and discrepancies emerged between quantitative and qualitative feedback, such that self-report measures indicated dissatisfaction but qualitative feedback was generally positive. Suggested improvements to the app included: 1) tutorials, 2) simplifying the design, 3) more activity options for those who ambulate by wheelchair, and 4) notifications to prompt use.


AYA-SB were able to learn how to complete specific tasks independently on a weight management app, but design changes consistent with previously proposed user needs were recommended. Rather than designing entirely new BITs, it may be possible to adapt existing technologies to personalize BITs for specific populations, such as AYA-SB. Clinical Trial: N/A


Please cite as:

Stiles-Shields C, Garcia B, Moya S, Villota K, Wartman E, Winning AM, Holmbeck GN

Exploring an Existing Weight Management App for Use with Adolescents and Young Adults with Spina Bifida: Usability Study

JMIR Preprints. 25/06/2019:15153

DOI: 10.2196/15153


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