The use of mobile applications to improve health outcomes in Latin America: a bibliometric analysis

Pedro Segura-Saldaña, Feeder J. Rojas-Vilar, Franko O. Garcia-Solorzano, Christoper A. Alarcon-Ruiz

Texto completo:

PDF (English)


Objective: To describe the existing scientific evidence on mobile health applications in Latin America.

Methods: Bibliometric study which analyzed scientific articles about mobile applications for health outcomes, published in peer-reviewed journals which were indexed in Scopus and LILACS until December 2019. All articles included had a minimum of one author with a Latin American affiliation. We analyzed the data with Stata and VOSviewer.

Results: There were 271 articles in this analysis. The scientific production per year increased from 1 article in 2012 to 18 articles in 2019. Most mobile health applications were designed for the general population or for patient use. Almost half of the studies explained the design process of mobile health applications, 19.6 % were quasi-experimental studies, and 4.4% were randomized clinical trials. Primary care and public health were the most common medical specialty among mobile health applications (n = 42; 15.5%), while elderly care was the most frequent health issue (n = 13; 4.8%).

Conclusion: There has been a progressive increase in scientific publications on mobile health applications in Latin America since 2012. However, only a few of these mobile health applications have been tested as an intervention in clinical randomized trials and covers the health burdens of the region.

Palabras clave

bibliometric; mobile applications; health; Latin America.


Minelli R, Lanza M, editores. Software analytics for mobile applications–insights & lessons learned. 2013 17th European conference on software maintenance and reengineering (CSMR). Genova: IEEE; 2013. DOI:

Morse SS, Murugiah MK, Soh YC, Wong TW, Ming LC. Mobile Health Applications for Pediatric Care: Review and Comparison. Ther Innov Regul Sci. 2018;52(3):383-91. DOI:

Aitken M, Clancy B, Nass D. The Growing Value of Digital Health: Evidence and Impact on Human Health and the Healthcare System. IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. 2017 [acceso 28/12/2019]. Disponible en:

GSMA. The Mobile Economy Latin America. 2019 Report. GSMA Intelligence. 2019 [acceso 28/12/2019]. Disponible en:

Zicker F, Cuervo LG, Salicrup LA. Promoting high quality research into priority health needs in Latin America and Caribbean. BMJ. 2018;362:k2492. DOI:

World Bank. Research and development expenditure. [acceso 28/12/2019]. Disponible en:

Nouri R, Sharareh RNK, Ghazisaeedi M, Marchand G, Yasini M. Criteria for assessing the quality of Health apps: a systematic review. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2018;25(8):1089-98. DOI:

Van Raan AFJ. The use of bibliometric analysis in research performance assessment and monitoring of interdisciplinary scientific developments. Technik folgenabschautzung Theorie. Praxis. 2003;1:20-9. DOI:

Nadri H, Rahimi B, Timpka T, Sedghi S. The Top 100 Articles in the Medical Informatics: a Bibliometric Analysis. J Med Syst. 2017;41(10):150. DOI:

Peng C, He M, Cutrona SL, Kiefe CI, Liu F, Wang Z. Theme Trends and Knowledge Structure on Mobile Health Apps: Bibliometric Analysis. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2020;8(7):e18212. DOI:

Sweileh WM, Al-Jabi SW, AbuTaha AS, Zyoud SH, Anayah FMA, Sawalha AF. Bibliometric analysis of worldwide scientific literature in mobile - health: 2006-2016. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2017;17(1):72. DOI:

Slade M, Oades L, Jarden A. Wellbeing, Recovery and Mental Health. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2017. DOI:

Zhang C, Zhang X, Halstead-Nussloch R. Assessment metrics, challenges and strategies for mobile health apps. Issues Inform Syst. 2014;15(2):59.

Scopus. [acceso 20/07/2020]. Disponible en:

LILACS. Literatura Latinoamericana y del Caribe en Ciencias de la Salud. [acceso 30/10/2019]. Disponible en:

Scimago Journal and Country Rank. Scopus. 2018 [acceso 30/12/2019]. Disponible en:

van Eck NJ, Waltman L. Software survey: VOSviewer, a computer program for bibliometric mapping. Scientometrics. 2010;84(2):523-38. DOI:

“App” voted 2010 word of the year by the American Dialect Society (UPDATED). American Dialect Society. 2011 [acceso 30/12/2019]. Disponible en:

Rhea CK, Felsberg DT, Maher JP. Toward Evidence-Based Smartphone Apps to Enhance Human Health: Adoption of Behavior Change Techniques. American Journal of Health Education. 2018;49(4):210-3. DOI:

Michán L. Análisis bibliométrico de la producción sistemática en América Latina. Acta Biol Colomb. 2011;16(2):33-46.

de Moya-Anegón F, Chinchilla-Rodríguez Z, Vargas-Quesada B, Corera-Álvarez E, Muñoz-Fernández FJ, González-Molina A, et al. Coverage analysis of Scopus: A journal metric approach. Scientometrics. 2007;73:53-78. DOI:

Howick J, Chalmers I, Glasziou P, Greenhalgh T, Heneghan C, Liberati A, et al. The 2011 Oxford CEBM levels of evidence (Introductory Document). Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. 2011. Disponible en:

Ventres WB. The Emergence of Primary Care in Latin America: Reflections from the Field. J Am Board Fam Med. 2013;26:183-6. DOI: .

Global Burden of Disease. The United States: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. 2017 [acceso 30/12/2019]. Disponible en:

Alarcon-Ruiz CA, Diaz-Barrera ME, Vera-Monge VA, Alva-Diaz C, Metcalf TA Bibliometric Analysis of the Latin American Research on Stroke 2003-2017. World Neurosurg. 2019;129:e545-e54. DOI: .

Delgado-Osorio N, Vera-Polania F, Lopez-Isaza AF, Martinez - Pulgarin DF, Murillo-Abadia J, Munoz-Urbano M, et al. Bibliometric assessment of the contributions of literature on Chagas disease in Latin America and the Caribbean. Recent Pat Antiinfect Drug Discov. 2014;9(3):202-8. DOI:

Culquichicon C, Cardona-Ospina JA, Patino-Barbosa AM, Rodriguez-Morales AJ. Bibliometric analysis of Oropouche research: impact on the surveillance of emerging arboviruses in Latin America. 2017;6:194. DOI:

Wagner S, Fernández-Ardévol M. Local content production and the political economy of the mobile app industries in Argentina and Bolivia. New Media & Society. 2016;18(8):1768-86. DOI:

Zhang L, Glänzel W. Proceeding papers in journals versus the “regular” journal publications. Journal of Informetrics. 2012;6:88-96. DOI:

Copyright (c) 2022 Pedro Segura-Saldaña, Feeder J. Rojas-Vilar, Franko O. Garcia-Solorzano, Christoper A. Alarcon-Ruiz

Licencia de Creative Commons
Esta obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-CompartirIgual 4.0 Internacional.