Background: Electronic health (eHealth) is a rapidly evolving field informed by multiple scientific disciplines. Because of this, the use of different terms and concepts to explain the same phenomena and lack of standardization in reporting interventions often leaves a gap that hinders knowledge accumulation. Interventions focused on self-management support of cardiovascular diseases through the use of remote monitoring technologies are a cross-disciplinary area potentially affected by this gap. A review of the underlying frameworks, models, and theories that have informed projects at this crossroad could advance future research and development efforts.
Objective: This research aimed to identify and compare underlying approaches that have informed interventions focused on self-management support of cardiovascular diseases through the use of remote monitoring technologies. The objective was to achieve an understanding of the distinct approaches by highlighting common or conflicting principles, guidelines, and methods.
Methods: The metaethnography approach was used to review and synthesize researchers' reports on how they applied frameworks, models, and theories in their projects. Literature was systematically searched in 7 databases: Scopus, Web of Science, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Association for Computing Machinery Digital Library, and Cochrane Library. Included studies were thoroughly read and coded to extract data for the synthesis. Studies were mainly related by the key ingredients of the underlying approaches they applied. The key ingredients were finally translated across studies and synthesized into thematic clusters.
Results: Of 1224 initial results, 17 articles were included. The articles described research and development of 10 different projects. Frameworks, models, and theories (n=43) applied by the projects were identified. Key ingredients (n=293) of the included articles were mapped to the following themes of eHealth development: (1) it is a participatory process; (2) it creates new infrastructures for improving health care, health, and well-being; (3) it is intertwined with implementation; (4) it integrates theory, evidence, and participatory approaches for persuasive design; (5) it requires continuous evaluation cycles; (6) it targets behavior change; (7) it targets technology adoption; and (8) it targets health-related outcomes.
Conclusions: The findings of this review support and exemplify the numerous possibilities in the use of frameworks, models, and theories to guide research and development of eHealth. Participatory, user-centered design, and integration with empirical evidence and theoretical modeling were widely identified principles in the literature. On the contrary, less attention has been given to the integration of implementation in the development process and supporting novel eHealth-based health care infrastructures. To better integrate theory and evidence, holistic approaches can combine patient-centered studies with consolidated knowledge from expert-based approaches.