Original Study| Volume 31, ISSUE 3, P285-290, June 2018

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MyLARC: A Theory-Based Interactive Smartphone App to Support Adolescents' Use of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

  • Sarah E. Timmons
    Address correspondence to: Sarah E. Timmons, MPH, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, 60 Haven Ave, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY 10032; Phone (619) 985-4774
    Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York
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  • Emily Birchfield Shakibnia
    Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York
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  • Melanie A. Gold
    Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York

    Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University Medical Center and Population and Family Health, Mailman School of Public Health, School-Based Health Centers, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Center for Community Health and Education, New York, New York
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  • Samantha Garbers
    Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York
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Published:November 20, 2017DOI:


      Study Objective

      Develop and test the feasibility of a Health Belief Model theory-based interactive smartphone application (app) aimed at providing information and support to adolescents with long-acting reversible contraception (LARC).

      Design, Setting, Participants, and Interventions

      Using a mixed-method design, we conducted 30 in-person interviews with adolescent LARC users who were enrolled in school-based health centers in New York City. Interviews were conducted in 2 phases: during phase 1, 12 participants viewed a pilot version of the app (MyLARC); during phase 2, 18 additional participants interacted with an expanded version of the app. Phase 2 participants downloaded MyLARC onto their smartphone and app usage was tracked.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Participants' responses to the in-person interviews and data usage of MyLARC from phase 2 determined the feasibility and acceptability of using MyLARC to support young women's satisfaction and continuation of LARC methods.


      Noneducational games were recommended as an approach to provide information to adolescents in an engaging way, as well as educational graphics and visually appealing content. Data tracking of MyLARC usage among phase 2 participants revealed a total of 67 unique logins to the app with 18 average page visits per unique login. The total amount of times MyLARC was opened was 1197. The most frequented features were ‘Info about LARC’ (95 unique visits) and ‘Games’ (80 unique plays).


      A theory-based interactive smartphone app with LARC-specific information and support is an appropriate and appealing medium to provide information and support to adolescents using LARC. Games represented a novel opportunity to engage adolescents with health information.

      Key Words

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