University of Oulu

Kekkonen, M., Korkiakangas, E., Laitinen, J., & Oinas-Kukkonen, H. (2023). Factors reducing the use of a persuasive mhealth app and how to mitigate them: Thematic analysis. JMIR Hum Factors 2023;10:e40579.

Factors reducing the use of a persuasive mHealth app and how to mitigate them : thematic analysis

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Author: Kekkonen, Markku1; Korkiakangas, Eveliina2; Laitinen, Jaana2;
Organizations: 1Oulu Advanced Research on Service and Information Systems, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: JMIR Publications, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-11


Background: Studies on which persuasive features may work for different users in health contexts are rare. The participants in this study were microentrepreneurs. We built a persuasive mobile app to help them to recover from work. Representatives of this target group tend to be very busy due to work, which was reflected in their use of the app during the randomized controlled trial intervention. Microentrepreneurs also often have dual roles; they are professionals in their line of work as well as entrepreneurs managing their own business, which may add to their workload.

Objective: This study aimed to present users’ views on the factors that hinder their use of the mobile health app that we developed and how these factors could be mitigated.

Methods: We interviewed 59 users and conducted both data-driven and theory-driven analyses on the interviews.

Results: Factors reducing app use could be divided into 3 categories: use context (problem domain–related issues, eg, the lack of time due to work), user context (user-related issues, eg, concurrent use of other apps), and technology context (technology-related issues, eg, bugs and usability). Due to the nature of the participants’ entrepreneurship, which often interferes with personal life, it became clear that designs targeting similar target groups should avoid steep learning curves and should be easy (quick) to use.

Conclusions: Personalized tunneling—guiding the user through a system via personalized solutions—could help similar target groups with similar issues better engage with and keep using health apps because of the easy learning curve. When developing health apps for interventions, background theories should not be interpreted too strictly. Applying theory in practice may require rethinking approaches for adaptation as technology has evolved rapidly and continues to evolve.

Trial Registration:: NCT03648593;

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Series: JMIR human factors
ISSN: 2292-9495
ISSN-E: 2292-9495
ISSN-L: 2292-9495
Volume: 10
Article number: e40579
DOI: 10.2196/40579
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 222 Other engineering and technologies
Funding: This study is part of Promo@Work research project, which was funded by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland, contract 303430 (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health) and contract 303431 (University of Oulu, OASIS).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 303431
Detailed Information: 303431 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © Markku Kekkonen, Eveliina Korkiakangas, Jaana Laitinen, Harri Oinas-Kukkonen. Originally published in JMIR Human Factors (, 26.06.2023. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Human Factors, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.