Adding Mobile Elements to Online Physical Activity Interventions Targeted at Adults Aged 50 Years and Older: Protocol for a Systematic Design

JMIR Res Protoc. 2022 Jul 12;11(7):e31677. doi: 10.2196/31677.


Background: Physical activity (PA) can increase mental and physical health in adults aged 50 years and older. However, it has been shown that PA guidelines are often not met within this population. Therefore, our research group developed 2 computer-tailored intervention programs in the last decade to stimulate PA: Active Plus and I Move. Although these programs were proven effective, positive effects diminished over time and attrition rates were relatively high. To respond to this, we will integrate 3 interactive mobile elements into the existing programs: activity tracker, ecological momentary intervention program, and virtual coach app.

Objective: The goal of the research is to define systematic and evidence-based steps for extending our online computer-based PA intervention programs with 3 interactive mobile elements.

Methods: Components often included in other (eHealth) design models were identified as key components and served as a base for the definition of systematic steps: exploration of context, involvement of the target population, prototype and intervention testing, and implementation. Based on these key components, 10 systematic steps were defined. The initial step is a literature search, with the results serving as a base for development of the low-fidelity prototypes in step 2. The pilot phase comprises the 3rd to 6th steps and includes semistructured interviews, pilot tests, and adaptations of the prototypes with intensive involvement of the target population of adults aged 50 years and older, where particular attention will be paid to lower educated persons. The 7th step is an effect evaluation in the form of a randomized controlled trial. During the 8th step, the most effective intervention programs will be selected and reinforced. These reinforced intervention programs will be used during the design of an implementation plan in the 9th step and the subsequent field study in the 10th step.

Results: The project will be executed from December 2019 to December 2023. During this period, the systematic approach presented will be practically executed according to the methodological procedures described.

Conclusions: Based on the 4 identified key components, we were able to design an evidence-based systematic design approach for separately adding 3 mobile elements to our existing online PA intervention programs. The 10 steps are presented as a useful approach to guide future eHealth design studies.

International registered report identifier (irrid): DERR1-10.2196/31677.

Keywords: design protocol; eHealth; mHealth; older adults; physical activity.