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A Persuasive and Social mHealth Application for Physical Activity: A Usability and Feasibility Study.

Al Ayubi SU, Parmanto B, Branch R, Ding D - JMIR Mhealth Uhealth (2014)

Bottom Line: There were seven fundamental characteristics of physical activity monitoring and promotion that were identified, which were then used as a foundation to develop the application.Based on the fundamental characteristics, the application was successfully developed.The usability results suggest that the system is usable and user satisfaction was high.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Health and Rehabilitation Informatics Laboratory, Department of Health Information Management, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States.

ABSTRACT

Background: Advances in smartphones and the wide usage of social networking systems offer opportunities for the development of innovative interventions to promote physical activity. To that end, we developed a persuasive and social mHealth application designed to monitor and motivate users to walk more every day.

Objective: The objectives of this project were to conduct a focused review on the fundamental characteristics of mHealth for physical activity promotion, to develop an mHealth application that meets such characteristics, and to conduct a feasibility study to deploy the application in everyday life.

Methods: This project started as an analytical study to review the fundamental characteristics of the technologies used in physical activity monitoring and promotion. Then, it was followed by a technical development of the application. Next, a 4 week deployment was conducted where participants used the application as part of their daily life. A think-aloud method and in-depth semistructured interviews were conducted following the deployment. A qualitative description method was used to thematically analyze the interviews. Feasibility measures included, adherence to the program, user-system interactions, motivation to use, and experience with physical activity and online social interactions.

Results: There were seven fundamental characteristics of physical activity monitoring and promotion that were identified, which were then used as a foundation to develop the application. There were fourteen participants that enrolled in the application evaluation. The age range was from 24 to 45; body mass index ranged from 18.5 to 42.98, with 4 of the subjects falling into the category "obese". Half of them were experienced with smartphones, and all were familiar with a social network system. There were thirteen participants that completed the study; one was excluded. Overall, participants gave high scores to almost all of the usability factors examined, with averages of 4.52 out of a 5.00 maximum. Over 29 days, participants used the application for a total of 119,380 minutes (average=7.57 hours/day/participant; SD 1.56).

Conclusions: Based on the fundamental characteristics, the application was successfully developed. The usability results suggest that the system is usable and user satisfaction was high. Deploying the application was shown to be feasible for the promotion of daily physical activity.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

PersonA general architecture. POI: point of input; SNS: social networking system.
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figure1: PersonA general architecture. POI: point of input; SNS: social networking system.

Mentions: PersonA’s hardware architecture consists of the accelerometer sensor on an Android smartphone as a data point of input (POI), the Android smartphone as a personal gateway, portal server, SNS bridge, and Facebook infrastructure. The data POI detects and feeds PA data to PersonA. The personal gateway stores the sensory data temporarily, analyzes the sensory data, offers post analyzed and meaningful feedback on the smartphone app, and transmits the data to the remote portal server where the data will be stored. Because Hypertext Transfer Protocol is used in the data transmission from the personal gateway to the portal server, the gateway must have an Internet connection service such as General Packet Radio Service, 3rd generation (3G), 4th Generation (4G), or a wireless local area network. The portal server uses distributed database architecture to store the PA data, mapping it with user’s profile data. In addition to serving as a data repository, the portal server also acts as a Web server, hosting the PersonA engine system and Web services. The SNS bridge is a system connecting the portal server or personal gateway with the SNS (Facebook) server. The Android smartphone was chosen as a primary personal gateway because the Android Operating System (OS) is a free and open source, allowing apps to be easily developed on top of it, and is a predominant OS on smartphone devices [71]. PersonA was designed to work on any phone with an Android OS version 2.3 or higher. In this study, the Android smartphones used were the Samsung Droid Charge, Nexus S, and Nexus S 2. A majority of the phones used the Verizon Wireless service 4G. The 2010 Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise Edition was used as the database server and the Apache Tomcat 6.0 was used as the Web server. For data transmission among the components, a RESTful Web service with JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) data format was used. Figure 1 shows this architecture.


A Persuasive and Social mHealth Application for Physical Activity: A Usability and Feasibility Study.

Al Ayubi SU, Parmanto B, Branch R, Ding D - JMIR Mhealth Uhealth (2014)

PersonA general architecture. POI: point of input; SNS: social networking system.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4114463&req=5

figure1: PersonA general architecture. POI: point of input; SNS: social networking system.
Mentions: PersonA’s hardware architecture consists of the accelerometer sensor on an Android smartphone as a data point of input (POI), the Android smartphone as a personal gateway, portal server, SNS bridge, and Facebook infrastructure. The data POI detects and feeds PA data to PersonA. The personal gateway stores the sensory data temporarily, analyzes the sensory data, offers post analyzed and meaningful feedback on the smartphone app, and transmits the data to the remote portal server where the data will be stored. Because Hypertext Transfer Protocol is used in the data transmission from the personal gateway to the portal server, the gateway must have an Internet connection service such as General Packet Radio Service, 3rd generation (3G), 4th Generation (4G), or a wireless local area network. The portal server uses distributed database architecture to store the PA data, mapping it with user’s profile data. In addition to serving as a data repository, the portal server also acts as a Web server, hosting the PersonA engine system and Web services. The SNS bridge is a system connecting the portal server or personal gateway with the SNS (Facebook) server. The Android smartphone was chosen as a primary personal gateway because the Android Operating System (OS) is a free and open source, allowing apps to be easily developed on top of it, and is a predominant OS on smartphone devices [71]. PersonA was designed to work on any phone with an Android OS version 2.3 or higher. In this study, the Android smartphones used were the Samsung Droid Charge, Nexus S, and Nexus S 2. A majority of the phones used the Verizon Wireless service 4G. The 2010 Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise Edition was used as the database server and the Apache Tomcat 6.0 was used as the Web server. For data transmission among the components, a RESTful Web service with JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) data format was used. Figure 1 shows this architecture.

Bottom Line: There were seven fundamental characteristics of physical activity monitoring and promotion that were identified, which were then used as a foundation to develop the application.Based on the fundamental characteristics, the application was successfully developed.The usability results suggest that the system is usable and user satisfaction was high.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Health and Rehabilitation Informatics Laboratory, Department of Health Information Management, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States.

ABSTRACT

Background: Advances in smartphones and the wide usage of social networking systems offer opportunities for the development of innovative interventions to promote physical activity. To that end, we developed a persuasive and social mHealth application designed to monitor and motivate users to walk more every day.

Objective: The objectives of this project were to conduct a focused review on the fundamental characteristics of mHealth for physical activity promotion, to develop an mHealth application that meets such characteristics, and to conduct a feasibility study to deploy the application in everyday life.

Methods: This project started as an analytical study to review the fundamental characteristics of the technologies used in physical activity monitoring and promotion. Then, it was followed by a technical development of the application. Next, a 4 week deployment was conducted where participants used the application as part of their daily life. A think-aloud method and in-depth semistructured interviews were conducted following the deployment. A qualitative description method was used to thematically analyze the interviews. Feasibility measures included, adherence to the program, user-system interactions, motivation to use, and experience with physical activity and online social interactions.

Results: There were seven fundamental characteristics of physical activity monitoring and promotion that were identified, which were then used as a foundation to develop the application. There were fourteen participants that enrolled in the application evaluation. The age range was from 24 to 45; body mass index ranged from 18.5 to 42.98, with 4 of the subjects falling into the category "obese". Half of them were experienced with smartphones, and all were familiar with a social network system. There were thirteen participants that completed the study; one was excluded. Overall, participants gave high scores to almost all of the usability factors examined, with averages of 4.52 out of a 5.00 maximum. Over 29 days, participants used the application for a total of 119,380 minutes (average=7.57 hours/day/participant; SD 1.56).

Conclusions: Based on the fundamental characteristics, the application was successfully developed. The usability results suggest that the system is usable and user satisfaction was high. Deploying the application was shown to be feasible for the promotion of daily physical activity.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus