Supporting Self-Management of Healthy Behaviors in Chronic Kidney Disease and Hypertension: The SMART-HABITS Pilot Randomized Trial

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2024 Jul 2. doi: 10.2215/CJN.0000000000000492. Online ahead of print.


Background: Support programs for self-management are under-utilized among people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). We examined the feasibility of a smartphone-based intervention to support physical activity and blood pressure monitoring, Supporting Self-Management of Healthy Behaviors (SMART-HABITS), for individuals with CKD and hypertension.

Methods: SMART-HABITS was piloted in a 12-week randomized cross-over trial among people with CKD and hypertension. Participants were asked to monitor blood pressure ≥3-times/week and step counts ≥5-times/week. Participants were randomized to blood pressure communication approach-self-report through text message for six weeks vs. automatic reporting with a smartphone application (app) paired to a Bluetooth enabled blood pressure machine for the alternate six weeks. The approach to monitoring and reporting steps was the same during both phases. Primary outcomes were adoption (retention and use of SMART-HABITS dashboard), adherence (% of transmitted blood pressure and step counts), and acceptability as assessed with surveys and interviews. Secondary outcomes were reach, maintenance, CKD knowledge, digital health literacy, self-management, self-efficacy, quality of life, step counts and blood pressure values. Interviews were conducted at study end.

Results: Of the 47 randomized participants, 44 (94%) completed the Text phase and 43 (92%) completed the App phase. Median age was 63 years, 49% were female, and 45% were Black. Retention was 91%. Blood pressure adherence was 87% in the Text phase and 74% in the App phase, and step count adherence was 97%. Acceptability scores were high and interviews largely conveyed acceptance. CKD knowledge increased but remaining survey scores did not change. Mean step counts increased from the pre-study period similarly in both phases. Blood pressure did not change over time.

Conclusion: Implementing a smartphone support tool for self-management was feasible among people with CKD and hypertension. The approach can supplement clinic-based care and potentially lead to less cardiovascular disease and CKD progression.