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Understanding usage of a hybrid website and smartphone app for weight management: a mixed-methods study

Understanding usage of a hybrid website and smartphone app for weight management: a mixed-methods study
Understanding usage of a hybrid website and smartphone app for weight management: a mixed-methods study

Background: Advancements in mobile phone technology offer huge potential for enhancing the timely delivery of health behavior change interventions. The development of smartphone-based health interventions (apps) is a rapidly growing field of research, yet there have been few longitudinal examinations of how people experience and use these apps within their day-to-day routines, particularly within the context of a hybrid Web- and app-based intervention.
Objective: This study used an in-depth mixed-methods design to examine individual variation in (1) impact on self-reported goal engagement (ie, motivation, self-efficacy, awareness, effort, achievement) of access to a weight management app (POWeR Tracker) when provided alongside a Web-based weight management intervention (POWeR) and (2) usage and views of POWeR Tracker.

Methods: Thirteen adults were provided access to POWeR and were monitored over a 4-week period. Access to POWeR Tracker was provided in 2 alternate weeks (ie, weeks 1 and 3 or weeks 2 and 4). Participants’ goal engagement was measured daily via self-report. Mixed effects models were used to examine change in goal engagement between the weeks when POWeR Tracker was and was not available and whether the extent of change in goal engagement varied between individual participants. Usage of POWeR and POWeR Tracker was automatically recorded for each participant. Telephone interviews were conducted and analyzed using inductive thematic analysis to further explore participants’ experiences using POWeR and POWeR Tracker.
Results: Access to POWeR Tracker was associated with a significant increase in participants’ awareness of their eating (?1=0.31, P=.04) and physical activity goals (?1=0.28, P=.03). The level of increase varied between individual participants. Usage data showed that participants used the POWeR website for similar amounts of time during the weeks when POWeR Tracker was (mean 29 minutes, SD 31 minutes) and was not available (mean 27 minutes, SD 33 minutes). POWeR Tracker was mostly accessed in short bursts (mean 3 minutes, SD 2 minutes) during convenient moments or moments when participants deemed the intervention content most relevant. The qualitative data indicated that nearly all participants agreed that it was more convenient to access information on-the-go via their mobiles compared to a computer. However, participants varied in their views and usage of the Web- versus app-based components and the informational versus tracking tools provided by POWeR Tracker.
Conclusions: This study provides evidence that smartphones have the potential to improve individuals’ engagement with their health-related goals when used as a supplement to an existing online intervention. The perceived convenience of mobile access to information does not appear to deter use of Web-based interventions or strengthen the impact of app access on goal engagement. A mixed-methods design enabled exploration of individual variation in daily usage of the app-based tools.
qualitative research, weight loss, behavioral research, mobile apps, internet, health, program acceptability, behaviour, mixed-methods
1438-8871
e201
Morrison, Leanne G
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Hargood, Charlie
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Lin, Sharon Xiaowen
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Dennison, Laura
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Joseph, Judith
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Hughes, Stephanie
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Michaelides, Danius T
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Johnston, Derek
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Johnston, Marie
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Michie, Susan
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Little, Paul
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Smith, Peter WF
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Weal, Mark J
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Yardley, Lucy
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Morrison, Leanne G
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Hargood, Charlie
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Lin, Sharon Xiaowen
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Dennison, Laura
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Joseph, Judith
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Hughes, Stephanie
a6d39500-67ff-4d7a-a1dc-8e42f80945ff
Michaelides, Danius T
a6df5175-d71a-4cd4-befc-26c48235fb92
Johnston, Derek
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Johnston, Marie
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Michie, Susan
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Little, Paul
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Smith, Peter WF
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Weal, Mark J
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Yardley, Lucy
64be42c4-511d-484d-abaa-f8813452a22e

Morrison, Leanne G, Hargood, Charlie, Lin, Sharon Xiaowen, Dennison, Laura, Joseph, Judith, Hughes, Stephanie, Michaelides, Danius T, Johnston, Derek, Johnston, Marie, Michie, Susan, Little, Paul, Smith, Peter WF, Weal, Mark J and Yardley, Lucy (2014) Understanding usage of a hybrid website and smartphone app for weight management: a mixed-methods study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16 (10), e201. (doi:10.2196/jmir.3579).

Record type: Article

Abstract


Background: Advancements in mobile phone technology offer huge potential for enhancing the timely delivery of health behavior change interventions. The development of smartphone-based health interventions (apps) is a rapidly growing field of research, yet there have been few longitudinal examinations of how people experience and use these apps within their day-to-day routines, particularly within the context of a hybrid Web- and app-based intervention.
Objective: This study used an in-depth mixed-methods design to examine individual variation in (1) impact on self-reported goal engagement (ie, motivation, self-efficacy, awareness, effort, achievement) of access to a weight management app (POWeR Tracker) when provided alongside a Web-based weight management intervention (POWeR) and (2) usage and views of POWeR Tracker.

Methods: Thirteen adults were provided access to POWeR and were monitored over a 4-week period. Access to POWeR Tracker was provided in 2 alternate weeks (ie, weeks 1 and 3 or weeks 2 and 4). Participants’ goal engagement was measured daily via self-report. Mixed effects models were used to examine change in goal engagement between the weeks when POWeR Tracker was and was not available and whether the extent of change in goal engagement varied between individual participants. Usage of POWeR and POWeR Tracker was automatically recorded for each participant. Telephone interviews were conducted and analyzed using inductive thematic analysis to further explore participants’ experiences using POWeR and POWeR Tracker.
Results: Access to POWeR Tracker was associated with a significant increase in participants’ awareness of their eating (?1=0.31, P=.04) and physical activity goals (?1=0.28, P=.03). The level of increase varied between individual participants. Usage data showed that participants used the POWeR website for similar amounts of time during the weeks when POWeR Tracker was (mean 29 minutes, SD 31 minutes) and was not available (mean 27 minutes, SD 33 minutes). POWeR Tracker was mostly accessed in short bursts (mean 3 minutes, SD 2 minutes) during convenient moments or moments when participants deemed the intervention content most relevant. The qualitative data indicated that nearly all participants agreed that it was more convenient to access information on-the-go via their mobiles compared to a computer. However, participants varied in their views and usage of the Web- versus app-based components and the informational versus tracking tools provided by POWeR Tracker.
Conclusions: This study provides evidence that smartphones have the potential to improve individuals’ engagement with their health-related goals when used as a supplement to an existing online intervention. The perceived convenience of mobile access to information does not appear to deter use of Web-based interventions or strengthen the impact of app access on goal engagement. A mixed-methods design enabled exploration of individual variation in daily usage of the app-based tools.

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Accepted/In Press date: 20 August 2014
Published date: 22 October 2014
Keywords: qualitative research, weight loss, behavioral research, mobile apps, internet, health, program acceptability, behaviour, mixed-methods
Organisations: Web & Internet Science, Primary Care & Population Sciences, Psychology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 371969
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/371969
ISSN: 1438-8871
PURE UUID: 07aba8a0-58c9-404a-b113-663159253336
ORCID for Leanne G Morrison: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-9961-551X
ORCID for Laura Dennison: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0122-6610
ORCID for Peter WF Smith: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4423-5410
ORCID for Mark J Weal: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6251-8786
ORCID for Lucy Yardley: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3853-883X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 25 Nov 2014 10:55
Last modified: 15 Oct 2019 00:55

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Contributors

Author: Charlie Hargood
Author: Sharon Xiaowen Lin
Author: Laura Dennison ORCID iD
Author: Judith Joseph
Author: Danius T Michaelides
Author: Derek Johnston
Author: Marie Johnston
Author: Susan Michie
Author: Paul Little
Author: Peter WF Smith ORCID iD
Author: Mark J Weal ORCID iD
Author: Lucy Yardley ORCID iD

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