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      I Must Try Harder”: Design Implications for Mobile Apps and Wearables Contributing to Self-Efficacy of Patients With Chronic Conditions

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          Diverse wellness-promoting mobile health technologies, including mobile apps and wearable trackers, became increasingly popular due to their ability to support patients’ self-management of health conditions. However, the patient’s acceptance and use depend on the perceived experience and the app appropriateness to the patient’s context and needs. We have some understating of the experience and factors influencing the use of these technologies in the general public, but we have a limited understanding of these issues in patients.


          By presenting results from an explorative study, this paper aims to identify implications for the design of mobile apps and wearables to effectively support patients’ efforts in self-management of health with a special emphasis on support for self-efficacy of activities contributing to health.


          An explorative mixed-method study involving 200 chronically ill patients of Stanford Medical Center (Stanford, CA, United States) was conducted between mid-2016 and end of 2018. Amongst these, 20 patients were involved in a 4-weeks study, in which we collected the underlying wearable device use logs (e.g., Fitbit) and subjective use experience [via an Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)], as well as patients’ momentary perception of general self-efficacy in their natural environments and different daily contexts.


          The results indicate that mobile apps for health and wearables have the potential to enable better self-management and improve patients’ wellbeing but must be further refined to address different human aspects of their use. Specifically, the apps/wearables should be easier to use, more personalized and context-aware for the patient’s overall routine and lifestyle choices, as well as with respect to the momentary patient state (e.g., location, type of people around) and health(care) needs. Additionally, apps and devices should be more battery efficient and accurate; providing timely, non-judgmental feedback and personalized advice to the patients anywhere-anytime-anyhow. These results are mapped on major sources of the individuals’ self-efficacy.


          Our results show how the apps/wearables that are aimed at supporting the patients’ self-management should be designed to leverage and further improve the patients’ general self-efficacy and self-efficacy of activities contributing to chronic disease management.

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          Most cited references 21

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          A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: the day reconstruction method.

          The Day Reconstruction Method (DRM) assesses how people spend their time and how they experience the various activities and settings of their lives, combining features of time-budget measurement and experience sampling. Participants systematically reconstruct their activities and experiences of the preceding day with procedures designed to reduce recall biases. The DRM's utility is shown by documenting close correspondences between the DRM reports of 909 employed women and established results from experience sampling. An analysis of the hedonic treadmill shows the DRM's potential for well-being research.
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            Effect of a self-management program on patients with chronic disease.

            For patients with chronic disease, there is growing interest in "self-management" programs that emphasize the patients' central role in managing their illness. A recent randomized clinical trial demonstrated the potential of self-management to improve health status and reduce health care utilization in patients with chronic diseases. To evaluate outcomes of a chronic disease self-management program in a real-world" setting. Before-after cohort study. Of the 613 patients from various Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics recruited for the study, 489 had complete baseline and follow-up data. The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is a 7-week, small-group intervention attended by people with different chronic conditions. It is taught largely by peer instructors from a highly structured manual. The program is based on self-efficacy theory and emphasizes problem solving, decision making, and confidence building. Health behavior, self-efficacy (confidence in ability to deal with health problems), health status, and health care utilization, assessed at baseline and at 12 months by self-administered questionnaires. At 1 year, participants in the program experienced statistically significant improvements in health behaviors (exercise, cognitive symptom management, and communication with physicians), self-efficacy, and health status (fatigue, shortness of breath, pain, role function, depression, and health distress) and had fewer visits to the emergency department (ED) (0.4 visits in the 6 months prior to baseline, compared with 0.3 in the 6 months prior to follow-up; P = 0.05). There were slightly fewer outpatient visits to physicians and fewer days in hospital, but the differences were not statistically significant. Results were of about the same magnitude as those observed in a previous randomized, controlled trial. Program costs were estimated to be about $200 per participant. We replicated the results of our previous clinical trial of a chronic disease self-management program in a "real-world" setting. One year after exposure to the program, most patients experienced statistically significant improvements in a variety of health outcomes and had fewer ED visits.
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              Understanding tailoring in communicating about health.

              'Tailoring' refers to any of a number of methods for creating communications individualized for their receivers, with the expectation that this individualization will lead to larger intended effects of these communications. Results so far have been generally positive but not consistently so, and this paper seeks to explicate tailoring to help focus future research. Tailoring involves either or both of two classes of goals (enhancing cognitive preconditions for message processing and enhancing message impact through modifying behavioral determinants of goal outcomes) and employs strategies of personalization, feedback and content matching. These goals and strategies intersect in a 2 x 3 matrix in which some strategies and their component tactics match better to some goals than to others. The paper illustrates how this framework can be systematically applied in generating research questions and identifying appropriate study designs for tailoring research.

                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                23 October 2019
                : 10
                1UC San Diego School of Medicine , La Jolla, CA, United States
                2Faculty of Communication Sciences, Institute of Communication and Health, Università della Svizzera Italiana , Lugano, Switzerland
                3Department of Surgery, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences , Dubai, United Arab Emirates
                4Department of Surgery – Multi-Organ Transplantation, Stanford University , Stanford, CA, United States
                5Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen , Copenhagen, Denmark
                6Department of Computer Science, Université de Genève , Geneva, Switzerland
                Author notes

                Edited by: Jeremy Tree, Swansea University, United Kingdom

                Reviewed by: Suzie Xu Wang, Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom; Artemisa Rocha Dores, Politécnico do Porto, Portugal

                *Correspondence: Sharon Wulfovich, wulfovichsharon@

                This article was submitted to Psychology for Clinical Settings, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Copyright © 2019 Wulfovich, Fiordelli, Rivas, Concepcion and Wac.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 38, Pages: 12, Words: 0
                Funded by: Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung 10.13039/501100001711
                Funded by: Horizon 2020 Framework Programme 10.13039/100010661
                Original Research


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