Background: Mobile technology has the potential to deliver behavior change interventions (mHealth) to reduce coronary heart disease (CHD) at modest cost. Previous studies have focused on single behaviors; however, cardiac rehabilitation (CR), a component of CHD self-management, needs to address multiple risk factors.
Objective: The aim was to investigate the effectiveness of a mHealth-delivered comprehensive CR program (Text4Heart) to improve adherence to recommended lifestyle behaviors (smoking cessation, physical activity, healthy diet, and nonharmful alcohol use) in addition to usual care (traditional CR).
Methods: A 2-arm, parallel, randomized controlled trial was conducted in New Zealand adults diagnosed with CHD. Participants were recruited in-hospital and were encouraged to attend center-based CR (usual care control). In addition, the intervention group received a personalized 24-week mHealth program, framed in social cognitive theory, sent by fully automated daily short message service (SMS) text messages and a supporting website. The primary outcome was adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors measured using a self-reported composite health behavior score (≥3) at 3 and 6 months. Secondary outcomes included clinical outcomes, medication adherence score, self-efficacy, illness perceptions, and anxiety and/or depression at 6 months. Baseline and 6-month follow-up assessments (unblinded) were conducted in person.
Results: Eligible patients (N=123) recruited from 2 large metropolitan hospitals were randomized to the intervention (n=61) or the control (n=62) group. Participants were predominantly male (100/123, 81.3%), New Zealand European (73/123, 59.3%), with a mean age of 59.5 (SD 11.1) years. A significant treatment effect in favor of the intervention was observed for the primary outcome at 3 months (AOR 2.55, 95% CI 1.12-5.84; P=.03), but not at 6 months (AOR 1.93, 95% CI 0.83-4.53; P=.13). The intervention group reported significantly greater medication adherence score (mean difference: 0.58, 95% CI 0.19-0.97; P=.004). The majority of intervention participants reported reading all their text messages (52/61, 85%). The number of visits to the website per person ranged from zero to 100 (median 3) over the 6-month intervention period.
Conclusions: A mHealth CR intervention plus usual care showed a positive effect on adherence to multiple lifestyle behavior changes at 3 months in New Zealand adults with CHD compared to usual care alone. The effect was not sustained to the end of the 6-month intervention. A larger study is needed to determine the size of the effect in the longer term and whether the change in behavior reduces adverse cardiovascular events.
Trial registration: ACTRN 12613000901707; https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=364758&isReview=true (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6c4qhcHKt).
Keywords: behavior; cardiovascular diseases; cellular phone; intervention; lifestyle change; mHealth; text messaging.