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Transl Behav Med. 2019 May 23. pii: ibz074. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibz074. [Epub ahead of print]

Development of a decision-making checklist tool to support technology selection in digital health research.

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Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, School of Medicine, UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems, UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
Indiana University School of Nursing, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Beth Israel Deconess Medical Center, Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA.


Digital technologies offer researchers new approaches to test personalized and adaptive health interventions tailored to an individual. Yet, research leveraging technologies to capture personal health data involve technical and ethical consideration during the study design phase. No guidance exists to facilitate responsible digital technology selection for research purposes. A stakeholder-engaged and iterative approach was used to develop, test, and refine a checklist designed to aid researchers in selecting technologies for their research. First, stakeholders (n = 7) discussed and informed key decision-making domains to guide app/device selection derived from the American Psychiatric Association's framework that included safety, evidence, usability, and interoperability. We added "ethical principles" to the APA's hierarchical model and created a checklist that was used by a small group of behavioral scientists (n = 7). Findings revealed the "ethical principles" domains of respect, beneficence, and justice cut across each decision-making domains and the checklist questions/prompts were revised accordingly and can be found at The refined checklist contains four decision-making domains with prompts/questions and ethical principles embedded within the domains of privacy, risk/benefit, data management, and access/evidence. This checklist is the first step in leading the narrative of decision-making when selecting digital health technologies for research. Given the dynamic and rapidly evolving nature of digital health technology use in research, this tool will need to be further evaluated for usefulness in technology selection.


Decision-making checklist; Digital medicine; Mobile health; Research ethics; Tech ethics


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