Patients' experiences of using a smartphone application to increase physical activity: The SMART MOVE qualitative study in primary care

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Background: Regular physical activity is known to help prevent and treat numerous non-communicable diseases. Smartphone applications (apps) have been shown to increase physical activity in primary care but little is known regarding the views of patients using such technology or how such technology may change behaviour. Aim: To explore patients' views and experiences of using smartphones to promote physical activity in primary care. Design and setting: This qualitative study was embedded within the SMART MOVE randomised controlled trial, which used an app (Accupedo-Pro Pedometer) to promote physical activity in three primary care centres in the west of Ireland. Method: Taped and transcribed semi-structured interviews with a purposeful sample of 12 participants formed the basis of the investigation. Framework analysis was used to analyse the data. Results: Four themes emerged from the analysis: transforming relationships with exercise; persuasive technology tools; usability; and the cascade effect. The app appeared to facilitate a sequential and synergistic process of positive change, which occurred in the relationship between the participants and their exercise behaviour; the study has termed this the 'Know-Check-Move' effect. Usability challenges included increased battery consumption and adjusting to carrying the smartphone on their person. There was also evidence of a cascade effect involving the families and communities of participants. Conclusion: Notwithstanding technological challenges, an app has the potential to positively transform, in a unique way, participants' relationships with exercise. Such interventions can also have an associated cascade effect within their wider families and communities. ©British Journal of General Practice.




Casey, M., Hayes, P. S., Glynn, F., Ólaighin, G., Heaney, D., Murphy, A. W., & Glynn, L. G. (2014). Patients’ experiences of using a smartphone application to increase physical activity: The SMART MOVE qualitative study in primary care. British Journal of General Practice, 64(625).

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