Feasibility of a behavioral intervention using mobile health applications to reduce cardiovascular risk factors in cancer survivors: a pilot randomized controlled trial

J Cancer Surviv. 2021 Aug;15(4):554-563. doi: 10.1007/s11764-020-00949-w. Epub 2020 Oct 10.


Purpose: Determine the feasibility of a remotely delivered mobile health (mHealth)-supported intervention to improve diet and physical activity in hematologic malignancy survivors.

Methods: Pilot randomized controlled trial of a 16-week intervention for improving diet and physical activity: individualized goal-setting (daily steps, sodium, saturated fat, added sugar intake) per feedback from mHealth trackers (Fitbit for activity; Healthwatch360 for diet), supplemented by a Facebook peer support group. Controls accessed the trackers without goal-setting or peer support. Everyone received standardized survivorship counseling with tailored advice from a clinician. Actigraphy and food frequency questionnaires assessed activity and diet at baseline and follow-up.

Results: Forty-one participants (51.2% male; median age 45.1 years; 7.0 years from treatment) were randomized (24 intervention; 17 control). Fitbit and Healthwatch360 use were more common among intervention versus control participants (75.0% versus 70.6% and 50.0% versus 17.7% of eligible days, respectively). Most intervention participants (66.7%) engaged with Facebook; overall, 91.7% interacted with the study's mHealth applications. While no comparisons in activity or dietary outcomes between intervention versus control group met statistical significance, the intervention was associated with greater reductions in the targeted dietary factors and improvements in Healthy Eating Index-2015 score, moderate-vigorous physical activity time, and daily steps. Participant retention at 6 months was 90.2%.

Conclusions: An intervention for cardiovascular risk reduction based on individualized goal-setting enhanced by mHealth and social media peer support was feasible and acceptable among cancer survivors.

Implications for cancer survivors: Effective and easily disseminated strategies that improve diet and physical activity in this population are needed.

Trial registration: Registered in ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT03574012) on June 29, 2018.

Keywords: Cancer survivorship; Cardiovascular disease; Diet; Goal-setting; Peer support; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk Factors
  • Telemedicine*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03574012