Factors That Influence the Use of Electronic Diaries in Health Care: Scoping Review

N.E.M. Daniels*, L.M.J. Hochstenbach, C. van Zelst, M.A. van Bokhoven, P.A.E.G. Delespaul, A.J.H.M. Beurskens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Background: A large number of people suffer from psychosocial or physical problems. Adequate strategies to alleviate needs are scarce or lacking. Symptom variation can offer insights into personal profiles of coping and resilience (detailed functional analyses). Hence, diaries are used to report mood and behavior occurring in daily life. To reduce inaccuracies, biases, and noncompliance with paper diaries, a shift to electronic diaries has occurred. Although these diaries are increasingly used in health care, information is lacking about what determines their use.Objective: The aim of this study was to map the existing empirical knowledge and gaps concerning factors that influence the use of electronic diaries, defined as repeated recording of psychosocial or physical data lasting at least one week using a smartphone or a computer, in health care.Methods: A scoping review of the literature published between January 2000 and December 2018 was conducted using queries in PubMed and PsycInfo databases. English or Dutch publications based on empirical data about factors that influence the use of electronic diaries for psychosocial or physical purposes in health care were included. Both databases were screened, and findings were summarized using a directed content analysis organized by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR).Results: Out of 3170 articles, 22 studies were selected for qualitative synthesis. Eleven themes were determined in the CFIR categories of intervention, user characteristics, and process. No information was found for the CFIR categories inner (eg, organizational resources, innovation climate) and outer (eg, external policies and incentives, pressure from competitors) settings. Reminders, attractive designs, tailored and clear data visualizations (intervention), smartphone experience, and intrinsic motivation to change behavior (user characteristics) could influence the use of electronic diaries. During the implementation process, attention should be paid to both theoretical and practical training.Conclusions: Design aspects, user characteristics, and training and instructions determine the use of electronic diaries in health care. It is remarkable that there were no empirical data about factors related to embedding electronic diaries in daily clinical practice. More research is needed to better understand influencing factors for optimal electronic diary use.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere19536
Number of pages15
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2021


  • compliance
  • delivery of health care
  • diary
  • ecological momentary assessment
  • intention
  • motivation
  • scoping review
  • LIFE

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