A digital lifestyle behaviour change intervention for the prevention of type 2 diabetes: a qualitative study exploring intuitive engagement with real-time glucose and physical activity feedback
journal contributionposted on 01.03.2021, 10:33 by ME Whelan, F Denton, CLA Bourne, AP Kingsnorth, LB Sherar, MW Orme, DW Esliger
BACKGROUND: Mobile health technologies have advanced to now allow monitoring of the acute physiological responses to lifestyle behaviours. Our aim was to explore how people engaged with real-time feedback on their physical activity and glucose levels over several weeks. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews with 26 participants (61.5% female, 56.6 years) at moderate-to-high risk of developing type 2 diabetes were conducted. Interviews were completed after participants took part in an intervention comprising a flash glucose monitor (Freestyle Libre) and a physical activity monitor (Fitbit Charge 2). Purposive sampling ensured representation of ages, genders and group allocations. RESULTS: Inductive thematic analysis revealed how individuals intuitively used, interpreted and acted on feedback from wearable technologies. Six key themes emerged: triggers of engagement with the technologies, links between behaviour and health, lack of confidence, changes to movement behaviours, changes to diet and barriers to lifestyle behaviour change. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate that accessing behavioural and physiological feedback can increase self-awareness of how lifestyle impacts short-term health. Some participants noticed a link between the feedback presented by the two devices and changed their behaviour but many did not. Training and educational support, as well as efforts to optimize how feedback is presented to users, are needed to sustain engagement and behaviour change. Extensions of this work to involve people with diabetes are also warranted to explore whether behavioural and physiological feedback in parallel can encourage better diabetes self-management. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN Registry, ISRCTN17545949 , 12/05/2017, prospectively registered.