Background: Technology, including mobile apps, has the potential to support self-management of long-term conditions and can be tailored to enhance adoption. We developed an app to support asthma self-management among people with limited health literacy in a web-based workshop (to ensure physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic).

Objective: The aim of this study is to develop and test a prototype asthma self-management mobile app tailored to the needs of people with limited health literacy through a web-based workshop.

Methods: We recruited participants from a primary care center in Malaysia. We adapted a design sprint methodology to a web-based workshop in five stages over 1 week. Patients with asthma and limited health literacy provided insights into real-life self-management issues in stage 1, which informed mobile app development in stages 2-4. We recruited additional patients to test the prototype in stage 5 using a qualitative research design. Participants gave feedback through a concurrent thinking-aloud process moderated by a researcher. Each interview lasted approximately 1 hour. Screen recordings of app browsing activities were performed. Interviews were audio-recorded and analyzed using a thematic approach to identify utility and usability issues.

Results: The stakeholder discussion identified four themes: individual, family, friends, and society and system levels. Five patients tested the prototype. Participants described 4 ways in which the app influenced or supported self-management (utility): offering information, providing access to an asthma action plan, motivating control of asthma through support for medication adherence, and supporting behavior change through a reward system. Specific usability issues addressed navigation, comprehension, and layout.

Conclusions: This study proved that it was possible to adapt the design sprint workshop to a web-based format with the added advantage that it allowed the development and the testing process to be done efficiently through various programs. The resultant app incorporated advice from stakeholders, including sources for information about asthma, medication and appointment reminders, accessible asthma action plans, and sources for social support. The app is now ready to move to feasibility testing


This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

Cite as

Salim, H., Lee, P., Shariff Ghazali, S., Cheong, A., Wong, J., Young, I., Pinnock, H. & Collaboration, R. 2021, 'Developing an Asthma Self-management Intervention Through a Web-Based Design Workshop for People With Limited Health Literacy: User-Centered Design Approach'Journal of Medical Internet Research, article no: e26434. https://doi.org/10.2196/26434

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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