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Br J Gen Pract. 2014 Jul;64(624):e384-91. doi: 10.3399/bjgp14X680461.

Effectiveness of a smartphone application to promote physical activity in primary care: the SMART MOVE randomised controlled trial.

Author information

1
Discipline of General Practice, School of Medicine, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.
2
Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.
3
Health Research Board Clinical Research Facility, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.
4
National Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Science, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.
5
Center for Rural Health, University of Aberdeen, Inverness, Scotland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Physical inactivity is a major, potentially modifiable, risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Effective, simple, and generalisable interventions that will increase physical activity in populations are needed.

AIM:

To evaluate the effectiveness of a smartphone application (app) to increase physical activity in primary care.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

An 8-week, open-label, randomised controlled trial in rural, primary care in the west of Ireland.

METHOD:

Android smartphone users >16 years of age were recruited. All participants were provided with similar physical activity goals and information on the benefits of exercise. The intervention group was provided with a smartphone app and detailed instructions on how to use it to achieve these goals. The primary outcome was change in physical activity, as measured by a daily step count between baseline and follow-up.

RESULTS:

A total of 139 patients were referred by their primary care health professional or self-referred. In total, 37 (27%) were screened out and 12 (9%) declined to participate, leaving 90 (65%) patients who were randomised. Of these, 78 provided baseline data (intervention = 37; control = 41) and 77 provided outcome data (intervention = 37; control = 40). The mean daily step count at baseline for intervention and control groups was 4365 and 5138 steps per day respectively. After adjusting, there was evidence of a significant treatment effect (P = 0.009); the difference in mean improvement in daily step count from week 1 to week 8 inclusive was 1029 (95% confidence interval 214 to 1843) steps per day, favouring the intervention. Improvements in physical activity in the intervention group were sustained until the end of the trial.

CONCLUSION:

A simple smartphone app significantly increased physical activity over 8 weeks in a primary care population.

KEYWORDS:

exercise; health behaviour; primary care; randomised controlled trial; technology

PMID:
24982490
PMCID:
PMC4073723
DOI:
10.3399/bjgp14X680461
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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