Preliminary Efficacy, Feasibility, and Perceived Usefulness of a Smartphone-Based Self-Management System With Personalized Goal Setting and Feedback to Increase Step Count Among Workers With High Blood Pressure: Before-and-After Study

JMIR Cardio. 2023 Jul 21:7:e43940. doi: 10.2196/43940.


Background: High blood pressure (BP) and physical inactivity are the major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Mobile health is expected to support patients' self-management for improving cardiovascular health; the development of fully automated systems is necessary to minimize the workloads of health care providers.

Objective: The objective of our study was to evaluate the preliminary efficacy, feasibility, and perceived usefulness of an intervention using a novel smartphone-based self-management system (DialBetes Step) in increasing steps per day among workers with high BP.

Methods: On the basis of the Social Cognitive Theory, we developed personalized goal-setting and feedback functions and information delivery functions for increasing step count. Personalized goal setting and feedback consist of 4 components to support users' self-regulation and enhance their self-efficacy: goal setting for daily steps, positive feedback, action planning, and barrier identification and problem-solving. In the goal-setting component, users set their own step goals weekly in gradual increments based on the system's suggestion. We added these fully automated functions to an extant system with the function of self-monitoring daily step count, BP, body weight, blood glucose, exercise, and diet. We conducted a single-arm before-and-after study of workers with high BP who were willing to increase their physical activity. After an educational group session, participants used only the self-monitoring function for 2 weeks (baseline) and all functions of DialBetes Step for 24 weeks. We evaluated changes in steps per day, self-reported frequencies of self-regulation and self-management behavior, self-efficacy, and biomedical characteristics (home BP, BMI, visceral fat area, and glucose and lipid parameters) around week 6 (P1) of using the new functions and at the end of the intervention (P2). Participants rated the usefulness of the system using a paper-based questionnaire.

Results: We analyzed 30 participants (n=19, 63% male; mean age 52.9, SD 5.3 years); 1 (3%) participant dropped out of the intervention. The median percentage of step measurement was 97%. Compared with baseline (median 10,084 steps per day), steps per day significantly increased at P1 (median +1493 steps per day; P<.001), but the increase attenuated at P2 (median +1056 steps per day; P=.04). Frequencies of self-regulation and self-management behavior increased at P1 and P2. Goal-related self-efficacy tended to increase at P2 (median +5%; P=.05). Home BP substantially decreased only at P2. Of the other biomedical characteristics, BMI decreased significantly at P1 (P<.001) and P2 (P=.001), and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol increased significantly only at P1 (P<.001). DialBetes Step was rated as useful or moderately useful by 97% (28/29) of the participants.

Conclusions: DialBetes Step intervention might be a feasible and useful way of increasing workers' step count for a short period and, consequently, improving their BP and BMI; self-efficacy-enhancing techniques of the system should be improved.

Keywords: behavior change; blood pressure; feasibility studies; goal setting; mHealth; mobile health; mobile phone; self-control; self-efficacy; self-regulation; smartphone; step count; walking; workplace.