mHealth apps have become ubiquitous in many aspects of our lives over the past three years. This has been fueled by the widespread availability of smartphones, tablets and laptops. Nowadays, thousands of health, wellness, self-help or even medical apps are available and can be downloaded to Android or Apple devices from different online stores.

This huge market holds promising beneficial effects especially for users. However, around 75% of apps are abandoned just three months after being downloaded. What possible causes can explain this lack of engagement?

Many apps try to engage all users in the same exact way. Huge mistake. This strategy is going to fail sooner or later. People are different and consequently, they are motivated by different things on many fronts including their health.

mHealth apps with gamification features provide psychological incentives for users to participate by appealing to their sense of achievement and enjoyment. A reminder alone may not be a compelling reason to, for instance, go to run, keep a healthy diet, or take one’s medication over time; yet, when given rewards for complying, users have been shown to participate at a higher rate. However, sustained motivation is a tricky issue and not just a matter of dangling a carrot in front of people…


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Therefore, when trying to hit the right note to engage users with their health, a wide variety of strategies is necessary, in terms of:

  • Messages and notifications: some people respond more to messages reminding benefits of engagement; others might be more motivated by being pushed to act, or by hearing of the consequences of non-engagement, etc.
  • Graphics, images, and media in general: some people like numbers and graphs; others might feel overwhelmed by statistics and prefer just images regarding health, achievements, etc.
  • Motivators: users can be motivated by competition, by helping or coaching the others to succeed, by being rewarded for the achievements and some of them, by sharing results socially, by being challenged, etc.

Additionally, a good motivational framework should be able to cover the following principles:

  • Known where you are going
  • Write your goals down
  • Look at others
  • Track your progress
  • Remember why you are doing this


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In brief, the best approach is to build a solid motivational framework and also, to be able to catch the differences of potential users and to treat them differently.

PRECIOUS approach takes into account all these factors and adapts to users by generating a virtual individual model, by asking them for their outcome goals from the very beginning and by remembering in a personalized manner progresses, achievements and meaning of actions.

In this sense, users will establish their outcome goals from the very beginning and these will be linked to health behaviors (e.g., physical activity, healthy diet, sleep, stress). PRECIOUS will met their needs by offering them different apps which will guide the users to success.

Thus, the comprehensive motivational framework of PRECIOUS put the user in the center of the action and promotes adherence, empowerment and health self-management by creating a joyful journey for the users. All of this is expected to promote and contribute to maintain long-term motivation for behavior change.