Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Methods & Reporting

Guidelines for reporting of health interventions using mobile phones: mobile health (mHealth) evidence reporting and assessment (mERA) checklist

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i1174 (Published 17 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1174
  1. Smisha Agarwal, associate faculty1 2 3,
  2. Amnesty E LeFevre, assistant scientist1 2,
  3. Jaime Lee, research assistant1 2,
  4. Kelly L’Engle, assistant professor4 5,
  5. Garrett Mehl, scientist6,
  6. Chaitali Sinha, senior programme officer7,
  7. Alain Labrique, associate professor1 2
  8. for the WHO mHealth Technical Evidence Review Group
  1. 1Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of International Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
  2. 2Johns Hopkins University, Global mHealth Initiative, Baltimore
  3. 3Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  4. 4Family Health International 360, Durham, NC, USA
  5. 5School of Nursing and Health Professions, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA
  6. 6World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, Geneva, Switzerland
  7. 7International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada
  1. Correspondence to: A Labrique alabriq1{at}jhu.edu
  • Accepted 9 February 2016

To improve the completeness of reporting of mobile health (mHealth) interventions, the WHO mHealth Technical Evidence Review Group developed the mHealth evidence reporting and assessment (mERA) checklist. The development process for mERA consisted of convening an expert group to recommend an appropriate approach, convening a global expert review panel for checklist development, and pilot testing the checklist. The guiding principle for the development of these criteria was to identify a minimum set of information needed to define what the mHealth intervention is (content), where it is being implemented (context), and how it was implemented (technical features), to support replication of the intervention. This paper presents the resulting 16 item checklist and a detailed explanation and elaboration for each item, with illustrative reporting examples. Through widespread adoption, we expect that the use of these guidelines will standardise the quality of mHealth evidence reporting, and indirectly improve the quality of mHealth evidence.

Summary points

  • To improve the reporting of mobile health (mHealth) interventions, the WHO mHealth Technical Evidence Review Group developed a checklist on mHealth evidence reporting and assessment (mERA)

  • The checklist aims to identify a minimum set of information needed to define what the mHealth intervention is (content), where it is being implemented (context), and how it was implemented (technical features), to support replication of the intervention

  • Through widespread adoption, these guidelines should standardise the quality of mHealth evidence reporting, and indirectly improve the quality of mHealth evidence

Mobile technologies have the potential to bridge systemic gaps needed to improve access to and use of health services, particularly among underserved populations. mHealth—defined as the use of mobile and wireless technologies for health—aims to capitalise on the rapid uptake of information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve health system efficiency and health outcomes. Over the past decade, global enthusiasm and the interest of development …

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