Publications by authors named "Marco Bardus"

14 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Application of the eHealth Literacy Model in Digital Health Interventions: Scoping Review.

J Med Internet Res 2021 Jun 3;23(6):e23473. Epub 2021 Jun 3.

Department of Health Promotion and Community Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.

Background: Digital health interventions (DHIs) are increasingly being adopted globally to address various public health issues. DHIs can be categorized according to four main types of technology: mobile based, web based, telehealth, and electronic health records. In 2006, Norman and Skinner introduced the eHealth literacy model, encompassing six domains of skills and abilities (basic, health, information, scientific, media, and computer) needed to effectively understand, process, and act on health-related information. Little is known about whether these domains are assessed or accounted for in DHIs.

Objective: This study aims to explore how DHIs assess and evaluate the eHealth literacy model, describe which health conditions are addressed, and which technologies are used.

Methods: We conducted a scoping review of the literature on DHIs, based on randomized controlled trial design and reporting the assessment of any domain of the eHealth literacy model. MEDLINE, CINAHL, Embase, and Cochrane Library were searched. A duplicate selection and data extraction process was performed; we charted the results according to the country of origin, health condition, technology used, and eHealth literacy domain.

Results: We identified 131 unique DHIs conducted in 26 different countries between 2001 and 2020. Most DHIs were conducted in English-speaking countries (n=81, 61.8%), delivered via the web (n=68, 51.9%), and addressed issues related to noncommunicable diseases (n=57, 43.5%) or mental health (n=26, 19.8%). None of the interventions assessed all six domains of the eHealth literacy model. Most studies focused on the domain of health literacy (n=96, 73.2%), followed by digital (n=19, 14.5%), basic and media (n=4, 3%), and information and scientific literacy (n=1, 0.7%). Of the 131 studies, 7 (5.3%) studies covered both health and digital literacy.

Conclusions: Although many selected DHIs assessed health or digital literacy, no studies comprehensively evaluated all domains of the eHealth literacy model; this evidence might be overlooking important factors that can mediate or moderate the effects of these interventions. Future DHIs should comprehensively assess the eHealth literacy model while developing or evaluating interventions to understand how and why interventions can be effective.
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June 2021

Determinants of Waste Management Practices and Willingness to Pay for Improving Waste Services in a Low-Middle Income Country.

Environ Manage 2021 Apr 28. Epub 2021 Apr 28.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.

In many low and middle-income countries, solid waste management (SWM) systems remain weak and lack standardization. Moreover, these systems fail to account for citizen's insight on the proposed solid waste initiatives. This study aims to identify the main determinants of SWM practices in a low-middle income country while accounting for citizens' perceived knowledge, attitudes, structural barriers, and willingness to pay for different services. Three communities were thus selected with varying socioeconomic factors and where different SWM practices were adopted. A cross-sectional study based on an interviewer-administered questionnaire was conducted across the three areas. Our results showed that increased knowledge and awareness of proper SWM did not correlate with people's attitudes nor with their adoption of positive waste management practices, such as reusing, reducing, recycling, and sorting of waste. Nevertheless, the results showed that the presence of an effective SWM system in a community positively influenced people's attitudes. Structural determinants, including the lack of appropriate facilities and adequate infrastructure, weak public knowledge on sorting, recycling, and composting, as well as the absence of guiding policies, appeared to be core barriers hindering the adoption of sustainable waste management practices across the three communities. The results of this study highlight the importance of establishing integrated SWM systems in developing countries, as they appear to trigger positive behaviors by the serviced citizens.
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April 2021

Primary care and pulmonary physicians' knowledge and practice concerning screening for lung cancer in Lebanon, a middle-income country.

Cancer Med 2021 04 20;10(8):2877-2884. Epub 2021 Mar 20.

Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute, American University of Beirut, Faculty of Medicine, Beirut, Lebanon.

Background: Screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) was shown to reduce lung cancer incidence and overall mortality, and it has been recently included in international guidelines. Despite the rising burden of lung cancer in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) such as Lebanon, little is known about what primary care physicians or pulmonologists know and think about LDCT as a screening procedure for lung cancer, and if they recommend it.

Objectives: Evaluate the knowledge about LDCT and implementation of international guidelines for lung cancer screening among Lebanese primary care physicians (PCPs) and pulmonary specialists.

Methodology: PCPs and PUs based in Lebanon were surveyed concerning knowledge and practices related to lung cancer screening by self-administered paper questionnaires.

Results: 73.8% of PCPs and 60.7% of pulmonary specialists recognized LDCT as an effective tool for lung cancer screening, with 63.6% of PCPs and 71% of pulmonary specialists having used it for screening. However, only 23.4% of PCPs and 14.5% of pulmonary specialists recognized the eligibility criteria for screening. Chest X-ray was recognized as ineffective by only 55.8% of PCPs and 40.7% of pulmonary specialists; indeed, 30.2% of PCPs and 46% of pulmonary specialists continue using it for screening. The majority have initiated a discussion about the risks and benefits of lung cancer screening.

Conclusion: PCPs and pulmonary specialists are initiating discussions and ordering LDCT for lung cancer screening. However, a significant proportion of both specialties are still using a non-recommended screening tool (chest x-ray); only few PCPs and pulmonary specialists recognized the population at risk for which screening is recommended. Targeted provider education is needed to close the knowledge gap and promote proper implementation of guidelines for lung cancer screening.
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April 2021

Validation of the Mobile Application Rating Scale (MARS).

PLoS One 2020 2;15(11):e0241480. Epub 2020 Nov 2.

Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Institute of Psychology and Education, University Ulm, Ulm, Germany.

Background: Mobile health apps (MHA) have the potential to improve health care. The commercial MHA market is rapidly growing, but the content and quality of available MHA are unknown. Instruments for the assessment of the quality and content of MHA are highly needed. The Mobile Application Rating Scale (MARS) is one of the most widely used tools to evaluate the quality of MHA. Only few validation studies investigated its metric quality. No study has evaluated the construct validity and concurrent validity.

Objective: This study evaluates the construct validity, concurrent validity, reliability, and objectivity, of the MARS.

Methods: Data was pooled from 15 international app quality reviews to evaluate the metric properties of the MARS. The MARS measures app quality across four dimensions: engagement, functionality, aesthetics and information quality. Construct validity was evaluated by assessing related competing confirmatory models by confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Non-centrality (RMSEA), incremental (CFI, TLI) and residual (SRMR) fit indices were used to evaluate the goodness of fit. As a measure of concurrent validity, the correlations to another quality assessment tool (ENLIGHT) were investigated. Reliability was determined using Omega. Objectivity was assessed by intra-class correlation.

Results: In total, MARS ratings from 1,299 MHA covering 15 different health domains were included. Confirmatory factor analysis confirmed a bifactor model with a general factor and a factor for each dimension (RMSEA = 0.074, TLI = 0.922, CFI = 0.940, SRMR = 0.059). Reliability was good to excellent (Omega 0.79 to 0.93). Objectivity was high (ICC = 0.82). MARS correlated with ENLIGHT (ps<.05).

Conclusion: The metric evaluation of the MARS demonstrated its suitability for the quality assessment. As such, the MARS could be used to make the quality of MHA transparent to health care stakeholders and patients. Future studies could extend the present findings by investigating the re-test reliability and predictive validity of the MARS.
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December 2020

To wear or not to wear a mask in the COVID-19 era? The broken bridge between recommendations and implementation in Lebanon.

J Glob Health 2020 Dec;10(2):020311

Department of Health Promotion and Community Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

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December 2020

Knowledge, beliefs, and practices related to cancer screening and prevention in Lebanon: community and social media users' perspectives.

Eur J Cancer Prev 2021 Jul;30(4):341-349

Department of Internal Medicine, Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute.

Objective: Common to many countries in the Middle East, Lebanon has an increasing cancer burden; however, national screening programs are limited to breast cancer. The literature on cancer screening practices and beliefs is scarce. This cross-sectional study investigates the knowledge, beliefs, and practices related to the prevention and screening for breast, cervical, colon, lung, and skin cancers among Lebanese residents, recruited through social media advertisements and community outreach activities.

Methods: Participants filled an anonymous questionnaire either via a web-based interface or using tablets distributed at primary health clinics. The characteristics of the two cohorts were compared with chi-square and t-tests. We performed descriptive analysis, followed by multivariate logistic regression for predictors of cancer screening.

Results: A total of 407 participants completed the survey online, and 262 filled the study in tablets available at primary care clinics. The two samples were significantly different in terms of age, education, and perceived socioeconomic status. Online participants demonstrated higher knowledge and higher participation in screening practices than their counterparts recruited through community outreach. Mammography (44.7% online and 39.9% in-person), and cervical cancer screening (44.5% online and 36.7% community) had the highest participation rates. In both samples, participants who were older and more educated were more likely to report engagement with cancer screening practices.

Conclusions: Our study revealed significant knowledge gaps in cancer prevention and screening. Different sampling techniques accessed diverse populations, highlighting the need for educational messages and targeted screening programs to be inclusive of socio-economically disadvantaged communities with low education and health literacy.
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July 2021

The Use of Social Media to Increase the Impact of Health Research: Systematic Review.

J Med Internet Res 2020 07 6;22(7):e15607. Epub 2020 Jul 6.

Department of Internal Medicine, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon.

Background: Academics in all disciplines increasingly use social media to share their publications on the internet, reaching out to different audiences. In the last few years, specific indicators of social media impact have been developed (eg, Altmetrics), to complement traditional bibliometric indicators (eg, citation count and h-index). In health research, it is unclear whether social media impact also translates into research impact.

Objective: The primary aim of this study was to systematically review the literature on the impact of using social media on the dissemination of health research. The secondary aim was to assess the correlation between Altmetrics and traditional citation-based metrics.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review to identify studies that evaluated the use of social media to disseminate research published in health-related journals. We specifically looked at studies that described experimental or correlational studies linking the use of social media with outcomes related to bibliometrics. We searched the Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online (MEDLINE), Excerpta Medica dataBASE (EMBASE), and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) databases using a predefined search strategy (International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews: CRD42017057709). We conducted independent and duplicate study selection and data extraction. Given the heterogeneity of the included studies, we summarized the findings through a narrative synthesis.

Results: Of a total of 18,624 retrieved citations, we included 51 studies: 7 (14%) impact studies (answering the primary aim) and 44 (86%) correlational studies (answering the secondary aim). Impact studies reported mixed results with several limitations, including the use of interventions of inappropriately low intensity and short duration. The majority of correlational studies suggested a positive association between traditional bibliometrics and social media metrics (eg, number of mentions) in health research.

Conclusions: We have identified suggestive yet inconclusive evidence on the impact of using social media to increase the number of citations in health research. Further studies with better design are needed to assess the causal link between social media impact and bibliometrics.
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July 2020

The Arabic Version of the Mobile App Rating Scale: Development and Validation Study.

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2020 03 3;8(3):e16956. Epub 2020 Mar 3.

School of Design, Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.

Background: With thousands of health apps in app stores globally, it is crucial to systemically and thoroughly evaluate the quality of these apps due to their potential influence on health decisions and outcomes. The Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) is the only currently available tool that provides a comprehensive, multidimensional evaluation of app quality, which has been used to compare medical apps from American and European app stores in various areas, available in English, Italian, Spanish, and German. However, this tool is not available in Arabic.

Objective: This study aimed to translate and adapt MARS to Arabic and validate the tool with a sample of health apps aimed at managing or preventing obesity and associated disorders.

Methods: We followed a well-established and defined "universalist" process of cross-cultural adaptation using a mixed methods approach. Early translations of the tool, accompanied by confirmation of the contents by two rounds of separate discussions, were included and culminated in a final version, which was then back-translated into English. Two trained researchers piloted the MARS in Arabic (MARS-Ar) with a sample of 10 weight management apps obtained from Google Play and the App Store. Interrater reliability was established using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs). After reliability was ascertained, the two researchers independently evaluated a set of additional 56 apps.

Results: MARS-Ar was highly aligned with the original English version. The ICCs for MARS-Ar (0.836, 95% CI 0.817-0.853) and MARS English (0.838, 95% CI 0.819-0.855) were good. The MARS-Ar subscales were highly correlated with the original counterparts (P<.001). The lowest correlation was observed in the area of usability (r=0.685), followed by aesthetics (r=0.827), information quality (r=0.854), engagement (r=0.894), and total app quality (r=0.897). Subjective quality was also highly correlated (r=0.820).

Conclusions: MARS-Ar is a valid instrument to assess app quality among trained Arabic-speaking users of health and fitness apps. Researchers and public health professionals in the Arab world can use the overall MARS score and its subscales to reliably evaluate the quality of weight management apps. Further research is necessary to test the MARS-Ar on apps addressing various health issues, such as attention or anxiety prevention, or sexual and reproductive health.
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March 2020

Assessing the Quality of Mobile Phone Apps for Weight Management: User-Centered Study With Employees From a Lebanese University.

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2019 01 23;7(1):e9836. Epub 2019 Jan 23.

Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.

Background: Evaluating the quality of mobile health apps for weight loss and weight management is important to understand whether these can be used for obesity prevention and treatment. Recent reviews call for more research on multidimensional aspects of app quality, especially involving end users, as there are already many expert reviews on this domain. However, no quantitative study has investigated how laypersons see popular apps for weight management and perceive different dimensions of app quality.

Objective: This study aimed to explore how laypersons evaluate the quality of 6 free weight management apps (My Diet Coach, SparkPeople, Lark, MyFitnessPal, MyPlate, and My Diet Diary), which achieved the highest quality ratings in a related and recent expert review.

Methods: A user-centered study was conducted with 36 employees of a Lebanese university. Participants enrolled in the study on a rolling basis between October 2016 and March 2017. Participants were randomly assigned an app to use for 2 weeks. App quality was evaluated at the end of the trial period using the Mobile App Rating Scale user version (uMARS). uMARS assesses the dimensions of engagement, functionality, aesthetics, information, and subjective quality on 5-point scales. Internal consistency and interrater agreement were examined. The associations between uMARS scores and users' demographic characteristics were also explored using nonparametric tests. Analyses were completed in November 2017.

Results: Overall, the 6 apps were of moderately good quality (median uMARS score 3.6, interquartile range [IQR] 0.3). The highest total uMARS scores were achieved by Lark (mean 4.0 [SD 0.5]) and MyPlate (mean 3.8 [SD 0.4]), which also achieved the highest subjective quality scores (Lark: mean 3.3 [SD 1.4]; MyPlate: mean 3.3 [SD 0.8]). Functionality was the domain with the highest rating (median 3.9, IQR 0.3), followed by aesthetics (median 3.7, IQR 0.5), information (median 3.7, IQR 0.1), and engagement (median 3.3, IQR 0.2). Subjective quality was judged low (median 2.5, IQR 0.9). Overall, subjective quality was strongly and positively related (P<.001) with total uMARS score (ρ=.75), engagement (ρ=.68), information, and aesthetics (ρ=.60) but not functionality (ρ=.40; P=.02). Higher engagement scores were reported among healthy (P=.003) and obese individuals (P=.03), who also showed higher total uMARS (P=.04) and subjective quality (P=.05) scores.

Conclusions: Although the apps were considered highly functional, they were relatively weak in engagement and subjective quality scores, indicating a low propensity of using the apps in the future. As engagement was the subdomain most strongly associated with subjective quality, app developers and researchers should focus on creating engaging apps, holding constant the functionality, aesthetics, and information quality. The tested apps (in particular Lark and MyPlate) were perceived as more engaging and of higher quality among healthy, obese individuals, making them a promising mode of delivery for self-directed interventions promoting weight control among the sampled population or in similar and comparable settings.
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January 2019

A Self-Directed Mobile Intervention (WaznApp) to Promote Weight Control Among Employees at a Lebanese University: Protocol for a Feasibility Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.

JMIR Res Protoc 2018 May 16;7(5):e133. Epub 2018 May 16.

Department of Health Promotion and Community Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.

Background: Overweight and obesity have become major health problems globally with more than 1.9 billion overweight adults. In Lebanon, the prevalence of obesity and overweight is 65.4% combined. Risk factors of obesity and overweight are preventable and can be addressed by modifications in the environment and in an individual's lifestyle. Mobile technologies are increasingly used in behavioral, self-directed weight management interventions, providing users with additional opportunities to attain weight control (weight loss, weight gain prevention, etc). Mobile apps may allow for the delivery of Just-in-Time Adaptive Interventions (JITAIs), which provide support through skill building, emotional support, and instrumental support, following the participants' progress. A few commercially available apps offer JITAI features, but no studies have tested their efficacy.

Objective: The primary objective of this study is to examine the feasibility of a self-directed weight loss intervention, targeting employees of an academic institution, using a virtual coaching app with JITAI features (Lark) and a self-help calorie-counting app (MyFitnessPal). The secondary objective is to estimate the effects of the intervention on main study outcomes.

Methods: This study is a single-center, parallel, randomized controlled trial with 2 study arms (intervention and control). Participants will be randomly allocated in equal proportions to the intervention (Lark) and control groups (MyFitnessPal). To be eligible for this study, participants must be employed full- or part-time at the university or its medical center, able to read English, have a smartphone, and be interested in controlling their weight. Recruitment strategies entail email invitations, printed posters, and social media postings. We will assess quantitative rates of recruitment, adherence, and retention, self-reported app quality using the user version of the Mobile App Rating Scale. We will also assess changes in weight-related outcomes (absolute weight and waist circumference), behavioral outcomes (physical activity and diet), and cognitive factors (motivation to participate in the trial and to manage weight).

Results: WaznApp was funded in June 2017, and recruitment started in March 2018.

Conclusions: This study will provide information as to whether the selected mobile apps offer a feasible solution for promoting weight management in an academic workplace. The results will inform a larger trial whose results might be replicated in similar workplaces in Lebanon and the Middle East and North Africa region, and will be used as a benchmark for further investigations in other settings and similar target groups.

Trial Registration: NCT03321331; (Archived by WebCite at

Registered Report Identifier: RR1-10.2196/9793.
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May 2018

Mobile and Web 2.0 interventions for weight management: an overview of review evidence and its methodological quality.

Eur J Public Health 2016 08 21;26(4):602-10. Epub 2016 Jun 21.

2 Psychology Applied to Health group, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK.

Background: The use of Internet and related technologies for promoting weight management (WM), physical activity (PA), or dietary-related behaviours has been examined in many articles and systematic reviews. This overview aims to summarize and assess the quality of the review evidence specifically focusing on mobile and Web 2.0 technologies, which are the most utilized, currently available technologies.

Methods: Following a registered protocol (CRD42014010323), we searched 16 databases for articles published in English until 31 December 2014 discussing the use of either mobile or Web 2.0 technologies to promote WM or related behaviors, i.e. diet and physical activity (PA). Two reviewers independently selected reviews and assessed their methodological quality using the AMSTAR checklist. Citation matrices were used to determine the overlap among reviews.

Results: Forty-four eligible reviews were identified, 39 of which evaluated the effects of interventions using mobile or Web 2.0 technologies. Methodological quality was generally low with only 7 reviews (16%) meeting the highest standards. Suggestive evidence exists for positive effects of mobile technologies on weight-related outcomes and, to a lesser extent, PA. Evidence is inconclusive regarding Web 2.0 technologies.

Conclusions: Reviews on mobile and Web 2.0 interventions for WM and related behaviors suggest that these technologies can, under certain circumstances, be effective, but conclusions are limited by poor review quality based on a heterogeneous evidence base.
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August 2016

A review and content analysis of engagement, functionality, aesthetics, information quality, and change techniques in the most popular commercial apps for weight management.

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2016 Mar 10;13:35. Epub 2016 Mar 10.

Psychology Applied to Health group, University of Exeter Medical School, St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, United Kingdom.

Background: There are thousands of apps promoting dietary improvement, increased physical activity (PA) and weight management. Despite a growing number of reviews in this area, popular apps have not been comprehensively analysed in terms of features related to engagement, functionality, aesthetics, information quality, and content, including the types of change techniques employed.

Methods: The databases containing information about all Health and Fitness apps on GP and iTunes (7,954 and 25,491 apps) were downloaded in April 2015. Database filters were applied to select the most popular apps available in both stores. Two researchers screened the descriptions selecting only weight management apps. Features, app quality and content were independently assessed using the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) and previously-defined categories of techniques relevant to behaviour change. Inter-coder reliabilities were calculated, and correlations between features explored.

Results: Of the 23 popular apps included in the review 16 were free (70%), 15 (65%) addressed weight control, diet and PA combined; 19 (83%) allowed behavioural tracking. On 5-point MARS scales, apps were of average quality (Md = 3.2, IQR = 1.4); "functionality" (Md = 4.0, IQR = 1.1) was the highest and "information quality" (Md = 2.0, IQR = 1.1) was the lowest domain. On average, 10 techniques were identified per app (range: 1-17) and of the 34 categories applied, goal setting and self-monitoring techniques were most frequently identified. App quality was positively correlated with number of techniques included (rho = .58, p < .01) and number of "technical" features (rho = .48, p < .05), which was also associated with the number of techniques included (rho = .61, p < .01). Apps that provided tracking used significantly more techniques than those that did not. Apps with automated tracking scored significantly higher in engagement, aesthetics, and overall MARS scores. Those that used change techniques previously associated with effectiveness (i.e., goal setting, self-monitoring and feedback) also had better "information quality".

Conclusions: Popular apps assessed have overall moderate quality and include behavioural tracking features and a range of change techniques associated with behaviour change. These apps may influence behaviour, although more attention to information quality and evidence-based content are warranted to improve their quality.
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March 2016

Mobile Phone and Web 2.0 Technologies for Weight Management: A Systematic Scoping Review.

J Med Internet Res 2015 Nov 16;17(11):e259. Epub 2015 Nov 16.

Psychology Applied to Health research group, Institute of Health Research, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, United Kingdom.

Background: Widespread diffusion of mobile phone and Web 2.0 technologies make them potentially useful tools for promoting health and tackling public health issues, such as the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity. Research in this domain is growing rapidly but, to date, no review has comprehensively and systematically documented how mobile and Web 2.0 technologies are being deployed and evaluated in relation to weight management.

Objective: To provide an up-to-date, comprehensive map of the literature discussing the use of mobile phone and Web 2.0 apps for influencing behaviors related to weight management (ie, diet, physical activity [PA], weight control, etc).

Methods: A systematic scoping review of the literature was conducted based on a published protocol (registered at

Prospero: CRD42014010323). Using a comprehensive search strategy, we searched 16 multidisciplinary electronic databases for original research documents published in English between 2004 and 2014. We used duplicate study selection and data extraction. Using an inductively developed charting tool, selected articles were thematically categorized.

Results: We identified 457 articles, mostly published between 2013 and 2014 in 157 different journals and 89 conference proceedings. Articles were categorized around two overarching themes, which described the use of technologies for either (1) promoting behavior change (309/457, 67.6%) or (2) measuring behavior (103/457, 22.5%). The remaining articles were overviews of apps and social media content (33/457, 7.2%) or covered a combination of these three themes (12/457, 2.6%). Within the two main overarching themes, we categorized articles as representing three phases of research development: (1) design and development, (2) feasibility studies, and (3) evaluations. Overall, articles mostly reported on evaluations of technologies for behavior change (211/457, 46.2%).

Conclusions: There is an extensive body of research on mobile phone and Web 2.0 technologies for weight management. Research has reported on (1) the development, feasibility, and efficacy of persuasive mobile technologies used in interventions for behavior change (PA and diet) and (2) the design, feasibility, and accuracy of mobile phone apps for behavioral assessment. Further research has focused exclusively on analyses of the content and quality of available apps. Limited evidence exists on the use of social media for behavior change, but a segment of studies deal with content analyses of social media. Future research should analyze mobile phone and Web 2.0 technologies together by combining the evaluation of content and design aspects with usability, feasibility, and efficacy/effectiveness for behavior change, or accuracy/validity for behavior assessment, in order to understand which technological components and features are likely to result in effective interventions.
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November 2015

Effects of text messaging in addition to emails on physical activity among university and college employees in the UK.

J Health Serv Res Policy 2013 Apr;18(1 Suppl):56-64

Health Improvement Specialist, Public Health Directorate, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, UK.

Objectives: To test the effects of adding text messages to weekly email communications on recipients' total physical activity (leisure-time; workplace; domestic and garden; and active transportation) in employees of universities and colleges in the UK.

Methods: A randomised trial with two study groups (email only or email plus text messaging for 12 weeks) was implemented at five workplaces. Data were collected at baseline, immediately after, and four weeks after the intervention. Intervention effects on physical activity were evaluated using latent growth modelling.

Results: Total physical activity decreased over time in both groups but the decrease was non-significant. The only significant difference between groups was found for workplace physical activity, with the group receiving emails and text messages having a linear decrease of 2.81 Metabolic Equivalent h/week (β = -0.31, p = 0.035) compared to the email only group.

Conclusions: Sending employees two additional text messages resulted in less physical activity. Further investigation is needed to understand whether text messaging may play a beneficial role in promoting physical activity in workplace settings.
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April 2013