Changing Health Behavior with Social Technology? A Pilot Test of a Mobile App Designed for Social Support of Physical Activity

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Abstract

Mobile applications targeting people engaged in physical activity have increased. However, while research has identified social support as a key factor for people’s engagement in physical activity, most mobile health (mHealth) applications are designed for individual use. In this paper, we report on a research study exploring opportunities for designing mHealth to facilitate social support around physical activity. A mHealth application was designed, and pilot tested for eight weeks with healthcare professionals (n = 3) and two groups of citizens (n = 20) who were motivated but challenged physically due to various health conditions. Data was collected via online monitoring of the use of the mHealth application during the pilot test and via qualitative interviews with the participants before and after. The results support the idea that designing for social health support is important but so is identifying key challenges related to i) the facilitation of technologymediated social health support, especially to a target group that is living with health challenges, and ii) finding a balance between social and health agendas that bring social support to the foreground for the participants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8383
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume17
Issue number22
Number of pages11
ISSN1661-7827
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Mobile health
  • Participatory design
  • Physical activity
  • Social support

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