Prenatal genetic testing is an essential part of routine prenatal care. Yet, obstetricians often lack the time to provide comprehensive prenatal genetic testing education to their patients. Pregnant women lack prenatal genetic testing knowledge, which may hinder informed decision-making during their pregnancies. Due to the rapid growth of technology, mobile apps are a potentially valuable educational tool through which pregnant women can learn about prenatal genetic testing and improve the quality of their communication with obstetricians. The characteristics, quality, and number of available apps containing prenatal genetic testing information are, however, unknown.
This study aims to conduct a firstreview to identify, evaluate, and summarize currently available mobile apps that contain prenatal genetic testing information using a systematic approach.
We searched both the Apple App Store and Google Play for mobile apps containing prenatal genetic testing information. The quality of apps was assessed based on the criteria adopted from two commonly used and validated mobile app scoring systems, including the Mobile Application Rating Scale (MARS) and the APPLICATIONS evaluation criteria.
A total of 64 mobile apps were identified. Of these, only 2 apps were developed for a specific prenatal genetic test. All others were either pregnancy-related (61/64, 95%) or genetics-related (1/64, 2%) apps that provided prenatal genetic testing information. The majority of the apps (49/64, 77%) were developed by commercial companies. The mean quality assessment score of the included apps was 13.5 (SD 2.9), which was equal to the average of possible theoretical score. Overall, the main weaknesses of mobile apps in this review included the limited number of prenatal genetic tests mentioned; incomprehensiveness of testing information; unreliable and missing information sources; absence of developmental testing with users (not evidence based); high level of readability; and the lack of visual information, customization, and a text search field.
Our findings suggest that the quality of mobile apps with prenatal genetic testing information must be improved and that pregnant women should be cautious when using these apps for prenatal genetic testing information. Obstetricians should carefully examine mobile apps before referring any of them to their patients for use as an educational tool. Both improving the quality of existing mobile apps, and developing new, evidence-based, high-quality mobile apps targeting all prenatal genetic tests should be the focus of mobile app developers going forward.