Tracking health data is not enough: A qualitative exploration of the role of healthcare partnerships and mhealth technology to promote physical activity and to sustain behavior change

Sheridan W. Miyamoto, Stuart Henderson, Heather M. Young, Amit Pande, Jay J. Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Despite the recent explosion of the mobile health (mHealth) industry and consumer acquisition of mHealth tools such as wearable sensors and applications (apps), limited information is known about how this technology can sustain health behavior change and be integrated into health care. Objective: The objective of the study was to understand potential users' views of mHealth technology, the role this technology may have in promoting individual activity goals aimed at improving health, and the value of integrating mHealth technology with traditional health care. Methods: Four focus groups were conducted with adults interested in sharing their views on how mHealth technology could support wellness programs and improve health. Participants (n=30) were enrolled from an employee population at an academic health institution. Qualitative thematic analysis was used to code transcripts and identify overarching themes. Results: Our findings suggest that tracking health data alone may result in heightened awareness of daily activity, yet may not be sufficient to sustain use of mHealth technology and apps, which often have low reuse rates. Participants suggested that context, meaning, and health care partnerships need to be incorporated to engage and retain users. In addition to these findings, drivers for mHealth technology previously identified in the literature, including integration and control of health data were confirmed in this study. Conclusions: This study explores ways that mHealth technologies may be used to not only track data, but to encourage sustained engagement to achieve individual health goals. Implications of these findings include recommendations for mHealth technology design and health care partnership models to sustain motivation and engagement, allowing individuals to achieve meaningful behavior change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere5
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2016

Keywords

  • Goals
  • Health behavior
  • mHealth
  • Motivation
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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