Skip to content Skip to navigation

Mobile Devices, Internet Help Spur Healthy Behaviors, Research Finds

September 7, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

People are more likely to adopt heart healthy behaviors when they are guided and encouraged via the Internet, their cellphones or other devices, according to a review of more than 200 studies published over 23 years in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the open access journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Researchers reviewed 224 studies conducted on generally healthy adults, published between 1990 and 2013. The studies evaluated the effect of using Internet, mobile phones, personal sensors or stand-alone computer software tools to inspire behavioral changes, such as improving diet, increasing physical activity, losing weight and stopping/reducing tobacco or alcohol use. Among the findings:

  Participants in Internet interventions improved their diets, became more active, lost body weight/fat, reduced tobacco use and cut excessive alcohol use.

 Participants in mobile device interventions (using smartphone apps or receiving text or voicemail messages) increased their physical activity and lost body weight/fat.

“Both Internet-based and mobile-based programs can help people become more physically active, eat better and achieve modest weight loss over 3 to 12 months,” said Ashkan Afshin, M.D., lead study author and acting assistant professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Programs that have components such as goal-setting and self-monitoring and use multiple modes of communication with tailored messages tended to be more effective. “We also found these programs were more effective if they included some interactions with healthcare providers. Clinicians, in particular in primary care settings, can use such programs to help people improve their lifestyle behaviors and reduce the risk of chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” Afshin said.

The available research is limited because most studies lasted less than six months, providing little information on how effective and sustainable the behavioral changes will be over the long term. In addition, most studies were conducted in high-income countries with volunteers who were generally more highly educated and motivated than the general public, according to an American Heart Association press release.

“Our study highlights several important gaps in current evidence on Internet-and mobile-based interventions. We need to evaluate their long-term value, effectiveness in different populations (such as the elderly and people from developing countries) and how different strategies may increase adherence to the programs,” Afshin said.

Get the latest information on Mobile Health and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More

Topics

News

Trump Administration Appoints Peter Severino to Head Office for Civil Rights

Roger Severino, a former staffer at The Heritage Foundation, has been appointed as the director of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

ACP: EHRs Have Great Benefits, but Raise Ethical Questions, Too

Electronic health records (EHRs) should facilitate high value patient-centered care, strong patient-physician relationships, and effective training of future physicians, but they also raise ethical questions, the ACP wrote.

Allegheny Health Network, VA Pittsburgh Integrate EMR Systems

Allegheny Health Network (AHN), based in Pittsburgh, and VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS), have announced the successful integration of their electronic medical record (EMR) platforms.

Wisconsin Urology Group Notifies Patients of Data Breach Due to Ransomware Attack

Wauwatosa, Wis.-based Metropolitan Urology Group has notified its patients of a breach of unsecured patient health information due to a ransomware attack back in November 2016.

Study: For Post-Op Patients, Mobile Apps for Follow-Up Care Led to Fewer In-Person Visits

For patients undergoing ambulatory surgery, those who used a mobile app for follow-up care attended fewer in-person visits post- operation than patients who did not use the app, according to a study in JAMA Surgery.

Information Blocking is Routine and Fairly Widespread, Survey of HIEs Finds

In a survey, 50 percent of HIE leaders said electronic health record (EHR) vendors "routinely" engage in information blocking, and 25 percent reported that hospitals and health systems routinely engage in business practices that interfere with electronic health information exchange.