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Evaluating the World Health Organization’s SkinNTDs App as a Training Tool for Skin Neglected Tropical Diseases in Ghana and Kenya: Cross-Sectional Study


Background: Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect over 1.5 billion people worldwide, primarily impoverished populations in low- and middle-income countries. Skin NTDs, a significant subgroup, manifest primarily as skin lesions and require extensive diagnosis and treatment resources, including trained personnel and financial backing. The World Health Organization has introduced the SkinNTDs app, a mobile health tool designed to train and be used as a decision support tool for frontline health care workers. As most digital health guidelines prioritize the thorough evaluation of mobile health interventions, it is essential to conduct a rigorous and validated assessment of this app.

Objective: This study aims to assess the usability and user experience of World Health Organization SkinNTDs app (version 3) as a capacity-building tool and decision-support tool for frontline health care workers.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Ghana and Kenya. Frontline health care workers dealing with skin NTDs were recruited through snowball sampling. They used the SkinNTDs app for at least 5 days before completing a web-based survey containing demographic variables and the user version of the Mobile Application Rating Scale (uMARS), a validated scale for assessing health apps. A smaller group of participants took part in semistructured interviews and one focus group. Quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS with a 95% CI and P≤.05 for statistical significance and qualitative data using ATLAS.ti to identify attributes, cluster themes, and code various dimensions that were explored.

Results: Overall, 60 participants participated in the quantitative phase and 17 in the qualitative phase. The SkinNTDs app scored highly on the uMARS questionnaire, with an app quality mean score of 4.02 (SD 0.47) of 5, a subjective quality score of 3.82 (SD 0.61) of 5, and a perceived impact of 4.47 (SD 0.56) of 5. There was no significant association between the app quality mean score and any of the categorical variables examined, according to Pearson correlation analysis; app quality mean score vs age (P=.37), sex (P=.70), type of health worker (P=.35), country (P=.94), work context (P=.17), frequency of dealing with skin NTDs (P=.09), and dermatology experience (P=.63). Qualitative results echoed the quantitative outcomes, highlighting the ease of use, the offline functionality, and the potential utility for frontline health care workers in remote and resource-constrained settings. Areas for improvement were identified, such as enhancing the signs and symptoms section.

Conclusions: The SkinNTDs app demonstrates notable usability and user-friendliness. The results indicate that the app could play a crucial role in improving capacity building of frontline health care workers dealing with skin NTDs. It could be improved in the future by including new features such as epidemiological context and direct contact with experts. The possibility of using the app as a diagnostic tool should be considered.

International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID) RR2-10.2196/39393

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Journal Article
Cano M
Ruiz-Postigo JA
Macharia P
Ampem Amoako Y
Odame Phillips R
Kinyeru E
Carrion C