Background: In the United States, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that average risk adults have regular CRC screening to detect and prevent CRC. Despite published CRC screening guidelines, national CRC screening rates remain suboptimal. With the exponential increase in technology use and device ownership, many mobile health applications (apps) have been developed to improve health outcomes. There is great potential for smartphone or tablet apps to help improve CRC screening uptake, with the ultimate goal of reducing CRC morbidity and mortality. To date, there are no systematic reviews that have examined the publicly available, free apps that are related to CRC screening, and therefore, the quality and the content of these apps remain unknown. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to systematically review smartphone and tablet apps that could be used to improve CRC screening uptake. Methods: Apps available on the Google Play and Apple App stores that were compatible with smartphones and tablets were reviewed. Of the 2,790 apps reviewed, 20 met inclusion criteria. Results: Of the 20 apps that met inclusion criteria, most were informational in nature. Approximately half of the apps focused on colonoscopies and did not discuss other CRC screening options. Furthermore, more than half of the apps did not include video/audio content and the majority of the apps did not provide navigation support (e.g., reminders, instructions, maps). Conclusions: There are multiple free, publicly available apps that may encourage CRC screening uptake. Despite their promise, there is a paucity of empirical evidence evaluating the efficacy and usability of these apps. Future research efforts can evaluate the content, usability, accessibility, and potential impact of these apps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-92
Number of pages6
JournalTelemedicine Journal and e-Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • behavioral health
  • cancer screening
  • colorectal cancer
  • e-health
  • telemedicine


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