There is little evidence that wearable health tracking devices can change behavior and improve health for those that need it most, say researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
The researchers wrote on the viewpoint in an online-only issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The authors say the devices have the potential to facilitate health behavior change but only when it's in accord with traditional engagement strategies such as individual encouragement, social competition and collaboration.
“The notion is that by recording and reporting information about behaviors such as physical activity or sleep patterns, these devices can educate and motivate individuals toward better habits and better health,” wrote authors Mitesh S. Patel, M.D., David A. Asch, M.D., and Kevin G. Volpp, M.D., Ph.D., all of whom are faculty at Penn and attending physicians at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. “The gap between recording information and changing behavior is substantial, however, and while these devices are increasing in popularity, little evidence suggests that they are bridging the gap.”