Free smartphone applications that aim to promote physical activity or reduce sedentary behavior at workplaces were questioned for its content such as technical features, behavior change techniques (BCT) and security concerns. To evaluate systematically whether smartphone apps are mapped adequately with BCTs and security concerns. Free apps in Google Play store were searched and coded for BCTs systematically in July 2020. Two reviewers independently coded apps that aimed to promote physical activity (n = 18) and reduce sedentary behavior (n = 16) using a taxonomy of 26 BCTs. BCTs, features and security concerns among apps promoting physical activity and reducing sedentary behavior were analyzed. While the features (social support, gamification, or rewards) help increase physical activity and decrease sedentary behavior, the apps do not typically include the above features. Further, the apps were based on an average of 13 (4-21) BCTs. The BCTs coded most frequently were "self-monitoring"(100%), "general encouragement"(97%), and "goal setting"(n = 94%). No significant relation between user rating and BCTs was found in the apps. Majority of the free apps that aimed to increase physical activity or reduce sedentary behavior at workplaces were not adequately based on BCTs and lacked essential features facilitating long term behavior compliance at workplaces. Hence, there is a need to develop newer applications mapped adequately with BCTs, involving the collaborative work of behavioral scientists, app developers and policymakers. Clinical Trial Registry of India CTRI/2020/03/024138.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1507-1516
Number of pages10
JournalTranslational Behavioral Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 01-08-2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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