The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for first responders (e.g., police, fire, and emergency medical services) and non-medical essential workers (e.g., food, transportation and other industries). Health systems may be uniquely suited to support these workers given their medical expertise, and mobile applications ("apps") can reach local communities despite social distancing requirements. Formal evaluation of real-world mobile app-based interventions are lacking.We aimed to evaluate the adoption, acceptability and appropriateness of an academic medical center's app-based intervention (COVID-19 Guide App) designed to support first responders and essential workers' access to COVID-19 information and testing services. We also sought to better understand the COVID-19 related needs of these workers early in the pandemic.To understand overall community adoption, COVID-19 Guide App views and download data were described. To understand adoption, appropriateness and acceptability of the app and workers' unmet needs, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted by phone, video and in-person with first responder and essential workers in the San Francisco Bay Area, recruited through purposive, convenience, and snowball sampling. Interview transcripts and field notes were qualitatively analyzed and presented using an implementation outcomes framework.From April 2020 launch to September 2020, the app received 8,262 views from unique devices and 6,640 downloads (80.4% conversion rate, 0.61% adoption rate across the Bay Area). App acceptability was mixed amongst 17 first responders interviewed and high amongst 10 essential workers interviewed. Select themes included the need for personalized and accurate information, access to testing, and securing personal safety. First responders faced additional challenges related to inter-professional coordination and a culture of heroism that could both protect against and exacerbate health vulnerability.First responders and essential workers both report challenges related to obtaining accurate information, testing services, and other resources. A mobile app intervention has the potential to combat these challenges through the provision of disease-specific information and access to testing services but may be most effective if delivered as part of a larger ecosystem of support. Differentiated interventions that acknowledge and address the divergent needs between first responders and non-first responder essential workers may optimize acceptance and adoption.
View details for DOI 10.2196/26573
View details for PubMedID 33878023