eISSN: 1689-3530
ISSN: 0867-4361
Alcoholism and Drug Addiction/Alkoholizm i Narkomania
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1/2020
vol. 33
 
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abstract:
Original article

Review and analysis of the functionality of mobile applications in the field of alcohol consumption

Michał Wróblewski
1
,
Justyna Iwona Klingemann
2
,
Łukasz Wieczorek
2

1.
Institute of Sociology, Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland
2.
Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Department of Studies on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Warsaw, Poland
Alcohol Drug Addict 2020; 33 (1): 1-18
Online publish date: 2020/06/09
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Introduction
The growing popularity of various devices in the field of mHealth is having an influence on contemporary medicine. The positive role of new technologies in addressing alcohol-related problems is also noticeable. As it seems, solutions used in the mHealth area may improve the addiction treatment system by facilitating stable contact with therapeutic units in the long term and overcoming stigmatisation and geographical barriers. The article contains a review and analysis of telephone app functionalities in the field of alcohol consumption.

Material and methods
The applications were selected in a systematic search of Google Play and AppStore databases. Two hundred applications associated with two general categories were included in the analysis: pro-drinking (n = 100) and pro-health apps (n = 100). The indicators of apps’ impact (like the number of user ratings, average user ratings and number of downloads) were analysed.

Results
Pro-drinking apps are much more popular than pro-health. Among the pro-health apps, the largest and most popular group were so called trackers used for monitoring of daily consumption.

Discussion
The popularity of trackers seems to be related to the broad phenomenon accompanying the development of mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), which is also present in the area of mHealth known as the Quantified Self (QS). Many of the analysed health-oriented apps contained elements of gamification. As the research shows, gamification has a large potential to change users behaviour, which in the context of dependence-related problems may be a promising tool in reducing excessive alcohol consumption.

Conclusions
Functionalities included in the applications encourage user’s reflexive management of their own habits and may allow to taking responsibility for one’s own behaviour and encourage self-control. However, on the other hand, the high popularity of pro-drinking applications may be an indirect incentive towards alcohol consumption.

keywords:

Gamification, mHealth, Mobile apps, Trackers

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