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      The Use of a Smartphone App and an Activity Tracker to Promote Physical Activity in the Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Randomized Controlled Feasibility Study

      , BSc, MPH 1 , , BSc, MSc 2 , , BSc, MSc, PhD 1 , , BSc, PhD 3 , , DipCOT, MPhil, PhD 1 , , BSc, MSc, PhD 4 , , PhD 5 , , BSc, MSc 6 , , BSc, PG Dip 1 , , BSc, MSc 1 , , BSc, MSc 1 , , BSc, PhD 1 ,
      (Reviewer), (Reviewer)
      JMIR mHealth and uHealth
      JMIR Publications
      mobile health, mHealth, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, feasibility, physical activity, activity tracker, Fitbit, self-management, health behavior change, pulmonary rehabilitation

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          Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is highly prevalent and significantly affects the daily functioning of patients. Self-management strategies, including increasing physical activity, can help people with COPD have better health and a better quality of life. Digital mobile health (mHealth) techniques have the potential to aid the delivery of self-management interventions for COPD. We developed an mHealth intervention (Self-Management supported by Assistive, Rehabilitative, and Telehealth technologies-COPD [SMART-COPD]), delivered via a smartphone app and an activity tracker, to help people with COPD maintain (or increase) physical activity after undertaking pulmonary rehabilitation (PR).


          This study aimed to determine the feasibility and acceptability of using the SMART-COPD intervention for the self-management of physical activity and to explore the feasibility of conducting a future randomized controlled trial (RCT) to investigate its effectiveness.


          We conducted a randomized feasibility study. A total of 30 participants with COPD were randomly allocated to receive the SMART-COPD intervention (n=19) or control (n=11). Participants used SMART-COPD throughout PR and for 8 weeks afterward (ie, maintenance) to set physical activity goals and monitor their progress. Questionnaire-based and physical activity–based outcome measures were taken at baseline, the end of PR, and the end of maintenance. Participants, and health care professionals involved in PR delivery, were interviewed about their experiences with the technology.


          Overall, 47% (14/30) of participants withdrew from the study. Difficulty in using the technology was a common reason for withdrawal. Participants who completed the study had better baseline health and more prior experience with digital technology, compared with participants who withdrew. Participants who completed the study were generally positive about the technology and found it easy to use. Some participants felt their health had benefitted from using the technology and that it assisted them in achieving physical activity goals. Activity tracking and self-reporting were both found to be problematic as outcome measures of physical activity for this study. There was dissatisfaction among some control group members regarding their allocation.


          mHealth shows promise in helping people with COPD self-manage their physical activity levels. mHealth interventions for COPD self-management may be more acceptable to people with prior experience of using digital technology and may be more beneficial if used at an earlier stage of COPD. Simplicity and usability were more important for engagement with the SMART-COPD intervention than personalization; therefore, the intervention should be simplified for future use. Future evaluation will require consideration of individual factors and their effect on mHealth efficacy and use; within-subject comparison of step count values; and an opportunity for control group participants to use the intervention if an RCT were to be carried out. Sample size calculations for a future evaluation would need to consider the high dropout rates.

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          Defining Feasibility and Pilot Studies in Preparation for Randomised Controlled Trials: Development of a Conceptual Framework

          We describe a framework for defining pilot and feasibility studies focusing on studies conducted in preparation for a randomised controlled trial. To develop the framework, we undertook a Delphi survey; ran an open meeting at a trial methodology conference; conducted a review of definitions outside the health research context; consulted experts at an international consensus meeting; and reviewed 27 empirical pilot or feasibility studies. We initially adopted mutually exclusive definitions of pilot and feasibility studies. However, some Delphi survey respondents and the majority of open meeting attendees disagreed with the idea of mutually exclusive definitions. Their viewpoint was supported by definitions outside the health research context, the use of the terms ‘pilot’ and ‘feasibility’ in the literature, and participants at the international consensus meeting. In our framework, pilot studies are a subset of feasibility studies, rather than the two being mutually exclusive. A feasibility study asks whether something can be done, should we proceed with it, and if so, how. A pilot study asks the same questions but also has a specific design feature: in a pilot study a future study, or part of a future study, is conducted on a smaller scale. We suggest that to facilitate their identification, these studies should be clearly identified using the terms ‘feasibility’ or ‘pilot’ as appropriate. This should include feasibility studies that are largely qualitative; we found these difficult to identify in electronic searches because researchers rarely used the term ‘feasibility’ in the title or abstract of such studies. Investigators should also report appropriate objectives and methods related to feasibility; and give clear confirmation that their study is in preparation for a future randomised controlled trial designed to assess the effect of an intervention.
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            Regular physical activity reduces hospital admission and mortality in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a population based cohort study.

            Information about the influence of regular physical activity on the course of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is scarce. A study was undertaken to examine the association between regular physical activity and both hospital admissions for COPD and all-cause and specific mortality in COPD subjects. From a population-based sample recruited in Copenhagen in 1981-3 and 1991-4, 2386 individuals with COPD (according to lung function tests) were identified and followed until 2000. Self-reported regular physical activity at baseline was classified into four categories (very low, low, moderate, and high). Dates and causes of hospital admissions and mortality were obtained from Danish registers. Adjusted associations between physical activity and hospital admissions for COPD and mortality were obtained using negative binomial and Cox regression models, respectively. After adjustment for relevant confounders, subjects reporting low, moderate or high physical activity had a lower risk of hospital admission for COPD during the follow up period than those who reported very low physical activity (incidence rate ratio 0.72, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53 to 0.97). Low, moderate and high levels of regular physical activity were associated with an adjusted lower risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio (HR) 0.76, 95% CI 0.65 to 0.90) and respiratory mortality (HR 0.70, 95% CI 0.48 to 1.02). No effect modification was found for sex, age group, COPD severity, or a background of ischaemic heart disease. Subjects with COPD who perform some level of regular physical activity have a lower risk of both COPD admissions and mortality. The recommendation that COPD patients be encouraged to maintain or increase their levels of regular physical activity should be considered in future COPD guidelines, since it is likely to result in a relevant public health benefit.
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              Mapping mHealth Research: A Decade of Evolution

              Background For the last decade, mHealth has constantly expanded as a part of eHealth. Mobile applications for health have the potential to target heterogeneous audiences and address specific needs in different situations, with diverse outcomes, and to complement highly developed health care technologies. The market is rapidly evolving, making countless new mobile technologies potentially available to the health care system; however, systematic research on the impact of these technologies on health outcomes remains scarce. Objective To provide a comprehensive view of the field of mHealth research to date and to understand whether and how the new generation of smartphones has triggered research, since their introduction 5 years ago. Specifically, we focused on studies aiming to evaluate the impact of mobile phones on health, and we sought to identify the main areas of health care delivery where mobile technologies can have an impact. Methods A systematic literature review was conducted on the impact of mobile phones and smartphones in health care. Abstracts and articles were categorized using typologies that were partly adapted from existing literature and partly created inductively from publications included in the review. Results The final sample consisted of 117 articles published between 2002 and 2012. The majority of them were published in the second half of our observation period, with a clear upsurge between 2007 and 2008, when the number of articles almost doubled. The articles were published in 77 different journals, mostly from the field of medicine or technology and medicine. Although the range of health conditions addressed was very wide, a clear focus on chronic conditions was noted. The research methodology of these studies was mostly clinical trials and pilot studies, but new designs were introduced in the second half of our observation period. The size of the samples drawn to test mobile health applications also increased over time. The majority of the studies tested basic mobile phone features (eg, text messaging), while only a few assessed the impact of smartphone apps. Regarding the investigated outcomes, we observed a shift from assessment of the technology itself to assessment of its impact. The outcome measures used in the studies were mostly clinical, including both self-reported and objective measures. Conclusions Research interest in mHealth is growing, together with an increasing complexity in research designs and aim specifications, as well as a diversification of the impact areas. However, new opportunities offered by new mobile technologies do not seem to have been explored thus far. Mapping the evolution of the field allows a better understanding of its strengths and weaknesses and can inform future developments.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Mhealth Uhealth
                JMIR Mhealth Uhealth
                JMIR mHealth and uHealth
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                June 2020
                3 June 2020
                : 8
                : 6
                : e16203
                [1 ] School of Health and Related Research The University of Sheffield Sheffield United Kingdom
                [2 ] School of Education The University of Sheffield Sheffield United Kingdom
                [3 ] School of Human Sciences The University of Derby Derby United Kingdom
                [4 ] Manchester Centre for Health Psychology The University of Manchester Manchester United Kingdom
                [5 ] Library The University of Manchester Manchester United Kingdom
                [6 ] Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Integrated Community Care Team Sheffield United Kingdom
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Mark S Hawley mark.hawley@ 123456sheffield.ac.uk
                Author information
                ©Claire L Bentley, Lauren Powell, Stephen Potter, Jack Parker, Gail A Mountain, Yvonne Kiera Bartlett, Jochen Farwer, Cath O'Connor, Jennifer Burns, Rachel L Cresswell, Heather D Dunn, Mark S Hawley. Originally published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth (http://mhealth.jmir.org), 03.06.2020.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://mhealth.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 10 September 2019
                : 16 October 2019
                : 7 January 2020
                : 24 January 2020
                Original Paper
                Original Paper

                mobile health,mhealth,chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,feasibility,physical activity,activity tracker,fitbit,self-management,health behavior change,pulmonary rehabilitation


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