25 May 2017
Physical activity is important for middle-agers to maintain health both in middle age and in old age. Although thousands of exercise-promotion mobile phone apps are available for download, current literature offers little understanding regarding which design features can enhance middle-aged adults’ quality perception toward exercise-promotion apps and which factor may influence such perception.
The aims of this study were to understand (1) which design features of exercise-promotion apps can enhance quality perception of middle-agers, (2) whether their needs are matched by current functions offered in app stores, and (3) whether physical activity (PA) and mobile phone self-efficacy (MPSE) influence quality perception.
A total of 105 middle-agers participated and filled out three scales: the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), the MPSE scale, and the need for design features questionnaire. The design features were developed based on the Coventry, Aberdeen, and London—Refined (CALO-RE) taxonomy. Following the Kano quality model, the need for design features questionnaire asked participants to classify design features into five categories: attractive, one-dimensional, must-be, indifferent, and reverse. The quality categorization was conducted based on a voting approach and the categorization results were compared with the findings of a prevalence study to realize whether needs match current availability. In total, 52 multinomial logistic regression models were analyzed to evaluate the effects of PA level and MPSE on quality perception of design features.
The Kano analysis on the total sample revealed that visual demonstration of exercise instructions is the only attractive design feature, whereas the other 51 design features were perceived with indifference. Although examining quality perception by PA level, 21 features are recommended to low level, 6 features to medium level, but none to high-level PA. In contrast, high-level MPSE is recommended with 14 design features, medium level with 6 features, whereas low-level participants are recommended with 1 feature. The analysis suggests that the implementation of demanded features could be low, as the average prevalence of demanded design features is 20% (4.3/21). Surprisingly, social comparison and social support, most implemented features in current apps, were categorized into the indifferent category. The magnitude of effect is larger for MPSE because it effects quality perception of more design features than PA. Delving into the 52 regression models revealed that high MPSE more likely induces attractive or one- dimensional categorization, suggesting the importance of technological self-efficacy on eHealth care promotion.
This study is the first to propose middle-agers’ needs in relation to mobile phone exercise-promotion. In addition to the tailor-made recommendations, suggestions are offered to app designers to enhance the performance of persuasive features. An interesting finding on change of quality perception attributed to MPSE is proposed as future research.