An interactive health technology solution for encouraging physical activity : a first model based on a user perspective

University dissertation from Västerås : Mälardalen University Press

Abstract: Globally, the level of physical inactivity is increasing. The overall aim of this thesis was to develop and test a first model of an interactive health technology solution (called App&Move) that should encourage physically inactive adults to be more physically active. App&Move was iteratively developed based on the user perspective, a so-called user-centered design. First, available technology was assessed; the validity and reliability of one smartphone pedometer application and one commonly used traditional pedometer were investigated. It was found that none of the investigated pedometers could measure correctly in all investigated situations. However, measurements by a smartphone appli-cation was identified to have high potential when aimed at monitoring physical activity in everyday situations. As the next step, a questionnaire was developed and distributed in central Sweden. The 107 respondents who answered the questionnaire were divided and analyzed in groups of users and non-users of physical activity self-monitoring technology. The results showed that users and non-users of such technology mainly had similar opinions about desirable functions of the technology. To gain further knowledge concerning how to design App&Move, the target group physically inactive non-users participated in focus group interviews. Important results were that the technology should focus on encouragement rather than measurements and that it preferably should be integrated into already existing technology, if possible already owned and worn by the person. A brainstorming workshop confirmed that the smartphone was a suitable platform, and a decision to develop a smartphone application was taken. A first draft of App&Move was developed, focusing on encouragement and measuring everyday activity and exercise in minutes per day. App&Move was based on available physical activity recommendations and strategies for successful behavior change. App&Move was positively received in a user workshop and thereafter iteratively refined and developed based on further user input. App&Move was usability tested in 23 physically inactive adults who used App&Move for four weeks and answered two questionnaires. Three usability aspects, effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction, were assessed as follows: acceptable, high and medium, and slight increases in activity minutes were observed during the test period. To conclude, this thesis has investigated the user perspective of physical activity self-monitoring technology with a target group of physically inactive adults. Based on these findings, a behavior change application for smartphone, App&Move, was presented. The usability test indicated promising results with respect to usability and indicated an ability to encourage the users to physical activity to some extent.

  This dissertation MIGHT be available in PDF-format. Check this page to see if it is available for download.