Skip to main content Accessibility help

Proposing a Framework for Mobile Applications in Disaster Health Learning

  • Alexander G. Liu (a1), Brian A. Altman (a2), Kenneth Schor (a3), Kandra Strauss-Riggs (a2), Tracy N. Thomas (a4), Catherine Sager (a4), Michelle Leander-Griffith (a4) and Victoria Harp (a4)...


Mobile applications, or apps, have gained widespread use with the advent of modern smartphone technologies. Previous research has been conducted in the use of mobile devices for learning. However, there is decidedly less research into the use of mobile apps for health learning (eg, patient self-monitoring, medical student learning). This deficiency in research on using apps in a learning context is especially severe in the disaster health field. The objectives of this article were to provide an overview of the current state of disaster health apps being used for learning, to situate the use of apps in a health learning context, and to adapt a learning framework for the use of mobile apps in the disaster health field. A systematic literature review was conducted by using the PRISMA checklist, and peer-reviewed articles found through the PubMed and CINAHL databases were examined. This resulted in 107 nonduplicative articles, which underwent a 3-phase review, culminating in a final selection of 17 articles. While several learning models were identified, none were sufficient as an app learning framework for the field. Therefore, we propose a learning framework to inform the use of mobile apps in disaster health learning. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2017;11:487–495)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to Alexander G. Liu, MPH, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Uniformed Services University, 6720B Rockledge Drive, Suite #550, Bethesda, MD 20817 (e-mail:


Hide All
1. Federal Trade Commission. Understanding Mobile Apps: Questions & Answers. Federal Trade Commission website. Published 2011. Accessed November 18, 2016.
2. British Computer Society. Apps: development, deployment, security and more. BCS website. Published February 2014. Accessed November 18, 2016.
3. Clark, JF. History of Mobile Applications. University of Kentucky. Accessed November 18, 2016.
4. Boudreaux, ED, Waring, ME, Hayes, RB, et al. Evaluating and selecting mobile health apps: strategies for healthcare providers and healthcare organizations. Transl Behav Med. 2014;4(4):363-371.
5. Marcano Belisario, JS, Huckvale, K, Greenfield, G, et al. Smartphone and tablet self management apps for asthma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(11):CD010013. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010013.pub2.
6. You, JS, Chung, HS, Chung, SP, et al. QR code: use of a novel mobile application to improve performance and perception of CPR in public. Resuscitation. 2013;84(9):e129-e130.
7. Zanner, R, Wilhelm, D, Feussner, H, et al. Evaluation of M-AID, a first aid application for mobile phones. Resuscitation. 2007;74(3):487-494.
8. Case, T, Morrison, C, Vuylsteke, A. The clinical application of mobile technology to disaster medicine. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2012;27(5):473-480.
9. Mentler, T, Herczeg, M, Jent, S, et al. Routine mobile applications for emergency medical services in mass casualty incidents. Biomed Tech (Berl). 2012;57(Suppl 1). 10.1515/bmt-2012-4457.
10. Umbach, KW. What is “push Technology”? CRB Note. 1997;4(6). Accessed November 18, 2016.
11. Bahner, DP, Adkins, E, Patel, N, et al. How we use social media to supplement a novel curriculum in medical education. Med Teach. 2012;34(6):439-444.
12. Remick, AP, Kendrick, JS. Breaking new ground: the Text4baby Program. Am J Health Promot. 2013;27(3 suppl):S4-S6. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.27.3.c2.
13. Dahabreh, SM. 4F_C: A conceptual framework for understanding architectural works. Sci Res Essays. 2014;9(8):269-279.
14. USC Libraries. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Theoretical Framework. Last updated November 15, 2016. Accessed November 18, 2016.
15. Moher, D, Liberati, A, Tetzlaff, J, et al. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. J Clin Epidemiol. 2009;62(10):1006-1012.
16. Albrecht, U-V, Folta-Schoofs, K, Behrends, M, et al. Effects of mobile augmented reality learning compared to textbook learning on medical students: randomized controlled pilot study. J Med Internet Res. 2013;15(8):e182.
17. Albrecht, U-V, Noll, C, von Jan, U. Explore and experience: mobile augmented reality for medical training. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2012;192:382-386.
18. Nuss, MA, Hill, JR, Cervero, RM, et al. Real-time use of the iPad by third-year medical students for clinical decision support and learning: a mixed methods study. J Community Hosp Intern Med Perspect. 2014;4(4). doi: 10.3402/jchimp.v4.25184. eCollection 2014.
19. Ortega, LDM, Plata, RB, Rodriguez, MLJ, et al. Using m-learning on nursing courses to improve learning. Computers Informatics Nursing. 2011;29(6 Topical Collection):TC98-TC104.
20. Renner, B, Kimmerle, J, Cavael, D, et al. Web-based apps for reflection: a longitudinal study with hospital staff. J Med Internet Res. 2014;16(3):e85.
21. Sánchez-Rola, I, Zapirain, BG. Mobile NBM-android medical mobile application designed to help in learning how to identify the different regions of interest in the brain’s white matter. BMC Med Educ. 2014;14(1):148.
22. Teri, S, Acai, A, Griffith, D, et al. Student use and pedagogical impact of a mobile learning application. Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2014;42(2):121-135.
23. Yoo, I-Y, Lee, Y-M. The effects of mobile applications in cardiopulmonary assessment education. Nurse Educ Today. 2015;35(2):e19-e23.
24. Archibald, D, Macdonald, CJ, Plante, J, et al. Residents’ and preceptors’ perceptions of the use of the iPad for clinical teaching in a family medicine residency program. BMC Med Educ. 2014;14(1):174.
25. Bibault, JE, Leroy, T, Blanchard, P, et al. Mobile technology and social media in the clinical practice of young radiation oncologists: results of a comprehensive nationwide cross-sectional study. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2014;90(1):231-237. 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2014.05.012.
26. Bullock, A. Does technology help doctors to access, use and share knowledge? Med Educ. 2014;48(1):28-33.
27. O’Connor, S, Andrews, T. Mobile technology and its use in clinical nursing education: a literature review. J Nurs Educ. 2015;54(3):137-144.
28. Székely, A, Talanow, R, Bágyi, P. Smartphones, tablets and mobile applications for radiology. Eur J Radiol. 2013;82(5):829-836.
29. Haffey, F, Brady, RR, Maxwell, S. Smartphone apps to support hospital prescribing and pharmacology education: a review of current provision. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2014;77(1):31-38.
30. Khatoon, B, Hill, K, Walmsley, A. Can we learn, teach and practise dentistry anywhere, anytime? Br Dent J. 2013;215(7):345-347.
31. Lewis, T, Burnett, B, Tunstall, R, et al. Complementing anatomy education using three‐dimensional anatomy mobile software applications on tablet computers. Clin Anat. 2014;27(3):313-320.
32. Murfin, M. Know your apps: an evidence-based approach to evaluation of mobile clinical applications. J Physician Assist Educ. 2013;24(3):38-40.
33. O’Leary, DE. Guest Editor’s introduction: knowledge-management systems-converting and connecting. IEEE Intell Syst. 1998;13(3):30-33.
34. Sfard, A. On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one. Educ Res. 1998;27(2):4-13.
35. Boud, D, Keogh, R, Walker, D. Reflection: Turning experience into learning. Abingdon-on-Thames, United Kingdom: Routledge; 2013.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed