Musculoskeletal physiotherapy provides conservative management for a range of conditions. Currently, there is a lack of engagement with exercise programs because of the lack of supervision and low self-efficacy. The use of mobile health (mHealth) interventions could be a possible solution to this problem, helping promote self-management at home. However, there is little evidence for musculoskeletal physiotherapy on the most effective forms of mHealth.
The aim of this review is to investigate the literature focusing on the use of mHealth in musculoskeletal physiotherapy and summarize the evidence.
A scoping review of 6 peer-reviewed databases was conducted in March 2021. No date limits were applied, and only articles written in the English language were selected. A reviewer screened all the articles, followed by 2 additional researchers screening a random sample before data extraction.
Of the 1393 studies, 28 (2.01%) were identified. Intervention characteristics comprised stretching and strengthening exercises, primarily for degenerative joint pain and spinal conditions (5/28, 18%). The most reported use of mHealth included telephone and videoconferencing calls to provide a home exercise program or being used as an adjunct to physiotherapy musculoskeletal assessment (14/28, 50%). Although patient satisfaction with mHealth was reported to be high, reasons for disengagement included a lack of high-quality information and poor internet speeds. Barriers to clinical uptake included insufficient training with the intervention and a lack of time to become familiar.
mHealth has some benefits regarding treatment adherence and can potentially be as effective as normal physiotherapy care while being more cost-effective. The current use of mHealth is most effective when ongoing feedback from a health care professional is available.