Background: Mobile technology has an impact on the health care sector, also within dietetics. Mobile health (mHealth) apps may be used for dietary assessment and self-monitoring, allowing for real-time reporting of food intakes. Changing eating behaviors is quite challenging, and patients undergoing hemodialysis, particularly, struggle to meet the target intakes set by dietary guidelines. Usage of mobile apps that are developed in a person-centered approach and in line with recommendations may support both patients and health care practitioners.
Objective: This study is a pilot that aims at estimating the potential efficacy of a dietary intervention using a theory-based, person-centered smartphone app. Results will be used to improve both the app and a planned large-scale trial intended to assess app efficacy thoroughly.
Methods: A prospective pilot study was performed at the hemodialysis unit of Al Qassimi Hospital (The Emirate of Sharjah). All patients that fulfilled the study inclusion criteria were considered eligible to be enrolled in the pilot study. Upon successful installation of the app, users met with a dietitian once a week. Outcomes were measured at baseline (T0) and 2 weeks post app usage (T1). This pilot is reported as per guidelines for nonrandomized pilot and feasibility studies and in line with the CONSORT 2010 checklist for reporting pilot or feasibility trials.
Results: A total of 23 patients completed the pilot intervention. Mean energy intakes increased from 24.4 kcal/kg/day (SD 8.0) to 29.1 kcal/kg/day (SD 7.8) with a medium effect size (d=0.6, 95% CI 0.0-1.2). Mean protein intakes increased from 0.9 g/kg/day (SD 0.3) to 1.3 g/kg/day (SD 0.5) with a large effect size (d=1.0, 95% CI 0.4-1.6); mean intake of high biological value (%HBV) proteins also increased from 58.6% (SD 10.1) to 70.1% (SD 10.7) with a large effect size (d=1.1, 95% CI 0.5-1.7). Dietary intakes of minerals did not change, apart from sodium which decreased from a mean intake of 2218.8 mg/day (SD 631.6) to 1895.3 mg/day (SD 581.0) with a medium effect size (d=0.5, 95% CI 0.1-1.1). Mean serum phosphorus, potassium, and albumin levels did not change relevantly. Mean serum iron increased from 7.9 mg/dL (SD 2.8) to 11.5 mg/dL (SD 7.9) postintervention with a medium effect size (d=0.6, 95% CI 0.0-1.2).
Conclusions: This pilot study showed that the KELA.AE app has the potential to improve dietary intakes. Processes related to procedure, resources, tools, and app improvement for a future trial were assessed. A more extended intervention using a randomized controlled trial is required to estimate parameters concerning app efficacy accurately.
Keywords: dietary app; hemodialysis diet; mHealth.
©Cosette Fakih El Khoury, Rik Crutzen, Jos M G A Schols, Ruud J G Halfens, Mirey Karavetian. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 20.07.2020.