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Mobile applications addressing violence against women: a systematic review
  1. Katharina Eisenhut1,
  2. Ela Sauerborn1,
  3. Claudia García-Moreno2,
  4. Verina Wild1
  1. 1Institute of Ethics, History and Theory of Medicine, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Munich, Germany
  2. 2Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Verina Wild; v.wild{at}


Introduction Violence against women is a pressing global health problem that is being met with a new intervention strategy—mobile applications. With this systematic review, we provide an initial analysis and functional categorisation of apps addressing violence against women.

Methods We conducted a systematic online search conforming with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines to identify apps addressing violence against women in five World Bank regions (Europe and Central Asia; North America, Latin America and the Caribbean; Middle East and North Africa; South Asia; and sub-Saharan Africa). Applications with location of initiation in mentioned regions and ≥100 downloads were included. Data on sector, target group(s), year of release, location of initiation and implementation were extracted. By means of a structured qualitative content analysis, applications were then categorised according to their main functions.

Results Of 327 relevant applications, 171 were included into the systematic review and assigned to one of five identified categories of main functions, respectively: emergency, avoidance, education, reporting and evidence building, and supporting apps. The largest proportion (46.78%) consisted of emergency apps, followed by education, reporting and evidence building, supporting and avoidance apps in descending order. With regards to the geographical distribution of app categories, significant (χ2(20)=58.172; p=0.000) differences among the included regions were found.

Conclusion A vast proportion of apps addressing violence against women primarily draw on one-time emergency or avoidance solutions, as opposed to more preventative approaches. Further research is necessary, critically considering questions of data security, personal safety and efficacy of such mobile health interventions.

  • systematic review
  • prevention strategies
  • public health
  • health policy

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • KE and ES contributed equally.

  • Contributors All authors designed the paper, read drafts and contributed written parts as well as commentaries on parts written by the coauthors. KE and ES conducted the systematic app search and categorisation, under supervision of VW and CG-M, and wrote the first draft. Equal authorship applies to KE and ES.

  • Funding The study was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF); grant number: 01GP1791.

  • Disclaimer CG-M: The views expressed are the views of the author and do not represent policy of the WHO. VW: The funder had no role in the preparation of the manuscript or the decision to submit. The corresponding author (VW) has access to all the data in the study and final responsibility for the decision to submit for publication.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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