Digital innovations continue to shape health and health care. As technology socially integrates into daily living, the lives of health care consumers are transformed into a key source of health information, commonly referred to as patient-generated health data (PGHD). With chronic disease prevalence signaling the need for a refocus on primary prevention, electronic PGHD might be essential in strengthening proactive and person-centered health care.
This study aimed to review and synthesize the existing literature on the utilization and implications of electronic PGHD for primary disease prevention and health promotion purposes.
Guided by a well-accepted methodological framework for scoping studies, we screened MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Scopus, Web of Science, EMBASE, and IEEE Digital Library. We hand-searched 5 electronic journals and 4 gray literature sources, additionally conducted Web searches, reviewed relevant Web pages, manually screened reference lists, and consulted authors. Screening was based on predefined eligibility criteria. Data extraction and synthesis were guided by an adapted PGHD-flow framework. Beyond initial quantitative synthesis, we reported narratively, following an iterative thematic approach. Raw data were coded, thematically clustered, and mapped, allowing for the identification of patterns.
Of 183 eligible studies, targeting knowledge and self-awareness, behavior change, healthy environments, and remote monitoring, most literature (125/183, 68.3%) addressed weight reduction, either through physical activity or nutrition, applying a range of electronic tools from socially integrated to full medical devices. Participants generated their data actively (100/183, 54.6%), in combination with passive sensor-based trackers (63/183, 34.4%) or entirely passively (20/183, 10.9%). The proportions of active and passive data generation varied strongly across prevention areas. Most studies (172/183, 93.9%) combined electronic PGHD with reflective, process guiding, motivational and educational elements, highlighting the role of PGHD in multicomponent digital prevention approaches. Most of these interventions (110/183, 60.1%) were fully automatized, underlining broader trends toward low-resource and efficiency-driven care. Only a fraction (47/183, 25.6%) of studies provided indications on the impact of PGHD on prevention-relevant outcomes, suggesting overall positive trends, especially on vitals (eg, blood pressure) and body composition measures (eg, body mass index). In contrast, the impact of PGHD on health equity remained largely unexplored. Finally, our analysis identified a list of barriers and facilitators clustered around data collection and use, technical and design considerations, ethics, user characteristics, and intervention context and content, aiming to guide future PGHD research.
The large, heterogeneous volume of the PGHD literature underlines the topic's emerging nature. Utilizing electronic PGHD to prevent diseases and promote health is a complex matter owing to mostly being integrated within automatized and multicomponent interventions. This underlines trends toward stronger digitalization and weaker provider involvement. A PGHD use that is sensitive to identified barriers, facilitators, consumer roles, and equity considerations is needed to ensure effectiveness.