Feasibility of Real-time Behavior Monitoring Via Mobile Technology in Czech Adults Aged 50 Years and Above: 12-Week Study With Ecological Momentary Assessment

JMIR Aging. 2021 Nov 10;4(4):e15220. doi: 10.2196/15220.

Abstract

Background: Czech older adults have lower rates of physical activity than the average population and lag behind in the use of digital technologies, compared with their peers from other European countries.

Objective: This study aims to assess the feasibility of intensive behavior monitoring through technology in Czech adults aged ≥50 years.

Methods: Participants (N=30; mean age 61.2 years, SD 6.8 years, range 50-74 years; 16/30, 53% male; 7/30, 23% retired) were monitored for 12 weeks while wearing a Fitbit Charge 2 monitor and completed three 8-day bursts of intensive data collection through surveys presented on a custom-made mobile app. Web-based surveys were also completed before and at the end of the 12-week period (along with poststudy focus groups) to evaluate participants' perceptions of their experience in the study.

Results: All 30 participants completed the study. Across the three 8-day bursts, participants completed 1454 out of 1744 (83% compliance rate) surveys administered 3 times per day on a pseudorandom schedule, 451 out of 559 (81% compliance rate) end-of-day surveys, and 736 episodes of self-reported planned physical activity (with 29/736, 3.9% of the reports initiated but returned without data). The overall rating of using the mobile app and Fitbit was above average (74.5 out of 100 on the System Usability Scale). The majority reported that the Fitbit (27/30, 90%) and mobile app (25/30, 83%) were easy to use and rated their experience positively (25/30, 83%). Focus groups revealed that some surveys were missed owing to notifications not being noticed or that participants needed a longer time window for survey completion. Some found wearing the monitor in hot weather or at night uncomfortable, but overall, participants were highly motivated to complete the surveys and be compliant with the study procedures.

Conclusions: The use of a mobile survey app coupled with a wearable device appears feasible for use among Czech older adults. Participants in this study tolerated the intensive assessment schedule well, but lower compliance may be expected in studies of more diverse groups of older adults. Some difficulties were noted with the pairing and synchronization of devices on some types of smartphones, posing challenges for large-scale studies.

Keywords: Fitbit; health behavior; mHealth; mobile phone; older adults; physical activity.