Mobile app rating scale: A new tool for assessing the quality of health mobile apps

Stoyanov, Stoyan, Hides, Leanne, Kavanagh, David, Zelenko, Oksana, Tjondronegoro, Dian, & Mani, Madhavan (2015) Mobile app rating scale: A new tool for assessing the quality of health mobile apps. Journal of Medical Internet Research mHealth and uHealth, 3(1), e27.

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The use of mobile apps for health and well being promotion has grown exponentially in recent years. Yet, there is currently no app-quality assessment tool beyond “star”-ratings.


The objective of this study was to develop a reliable, multidimensional measure for trialling, classifying, and rating the quality of mobile health apps.


A literature search was conducted to identify articles containing explicit Web or app quality rating criteria published between January 2000 and January 2013. Existing criteria for the assessment of app quality were categorized by an expert panel to develop the new Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) subscales, items, descriptors, and anchors. There were sixty well being apps that were randomly selected using an iTunes search for MARS rating. There were ten that were used to pilot the rating procedure, and the remaining 50 provided data on interrater reliability.


There were 372 explicit criteria for assessing Web or app quality that were extracted from 25 published papers, conference proceedings, and Internet resources. There were five broad categories of criteria that were identified including four objective quality scales: engagement, functionality, aesthetics, and information quality; and one subjective quality scale; which were refined into the 23-item MARS. The MARS demonstrated excellent internal consistency (alpha = .90) and interrater reliability intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC = .79).


The MARS is a simple, objective, and reliable tool for classifying and assessing the quality of mobile health apps. It can also be used to provide a checklist for the design and development of new high quality health apps.

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ID Code: 84696
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: wellbeing, mental health, e-health, mobile health (mhealth), assessment, rating, scale development
DOI: 10.2196/mhealth.3422
ISSN: 2291-5222
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Design
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 The Author(s)
Copyright Statement: Originally
published in JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth (, 11.03.2015. This is an open-access article distributed under
the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted
use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mhealth and uhealth, is
properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as
this copyright and license information must be included.
Deposited On: 09 Jun 2015 03:32
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2015 22:57

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