The experience of m-Health Apps for habitual change From a user’s perspective

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Unhealthy lifestyle habits threaten consumers’ health and well-being at a global scale. Technologies, such as mHealth apps, are designed to help their users change habits and, ultimately, better manage their health. However, habit change with the use of mHealth is hindered by the lack of long-term user engagement. This research explores users’ experience with the usage of mHealth and its effect on habitual change. Drawing upon marketing research, experience is explored through a paradox lens, as technology usage has been associated with the experience of unanticipated and conflicting consequences. Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted with current and past users of mHealth apps targeting habit change, such as diet habits. The data analysis revealed ten paradoxical consequences, such as of the conflict between self-control exerted by users vs. control exerted by the app. To address such tensions, users applied various coping strategies, such as abandoning or mastering the usage of their app. Users’ experience of paradoxical tensions and coping with them affects their actual habit change – the most profound effect being the lack of change due to abandoning the mHealth app. Based on these results, a number of theoretical and practical implications are provided.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen