When I review apps, my years of experience play a significant role in my assessments of the usefulness of apps. I rarely base my reviews on research to determine if the app is evidence based. This is because research is time consuming and the reviews of apps take a considerable amount of my time. However, I do check suspicious claims. A claim will strike me as suspicious if I suspect that the citation of research has been done to sell the app. Those of you who have read my earlier posts know that I have shown where a claim of an app being based on research is not supported by the research cited.
In this month’s ASHA Leader, Lara Wakefield and Teresa Shaber, in their article, “APP-titude: Use the Evidence to Choose a Treatment App,” noted, “App developers’ descriptions and customers’ reviews, however, may lack discussions of evidence and contain inherent biases. SLPs who use only this information may be relying solely on opinions and advertisements to make decisions.” Wakefield and Shaber then discuss a five step process for determining if an app is evidence based. These steps are:
Step 1: Frame your clinical question using PICO (Population, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcome).
Step 2: Find the evidence.
Step 3: Assess the evidence.
Step 4: Search the app store and consult the evidence.
Step 5: Make a clinical decision and integrate the different types of evidence to determine your choices.
It is quite easy to do the research. Some app developers cite research in their app descriptions. Follow their lead and make sure the research does support the developers’ claims. ASHA has a database of thousands of articles. Do a search using a few key words and a screen will appear with various articles to peruse.
If one wants to be certain that a particular app meets evidence based standards, one needs to go that extra mile.