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Do physical activity and dietary smartphone applications incorporate evidence-based behaviour change techniques?

Direito, Artur, Dale, Leila Pfaeffli, Shields, Emma, Dobson, Rosie, Whittaker, Robyn and Maddison, Ralph 2014, Do physical activity and dietary smartphone applications incorporate evidence-based behaviour change techniques?, BMC public health, vol. 14, Article number: 646, pp. 1-7, doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-646.

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Title Do physical activity and dietary smartphone applications incorporate evidence-based behaviour change techniques?
Author(s) Direito, Artur
Dale, Leila Pfaeffli
Shields, Emma
Dobson, Rosie
Whittaker, Robyn
Maddison, RalphORCID iD for Maddison, Ralph orcid.org/0000-0001-8564-5518
Journal name BMC public health
Volume number 14
Season Article number: 646
Start page 1
End page 7
Total pages 7
Publisher BioMed Central
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2014-06
ISSN 1471-2458
Keyword(s) Behavior Therapy
Cell Phones
Diet
Evidence-Based Practice
Exercise
Humans
Mobile Applications
New Zealand
Reproducibility of Results
Software Design
Summary BACKGROUND: There has been a recent proliferation in the development of smartphone applications (apps) aimed at modifying various health behaviours. While interventions that incorporate behaviour change techniques (BCTs) have been associated with greater effectiveness, it is not clear to what extent smartphone apps incorporate such techniques. The purpose of this study was to investigate the presence of BCTs in physical activity and dietary apps and determine how reliably the taxonomy checklist can be used to identify BCTs in smartphone apps.

METHODS: The top-20 paid and top-20 free physical activity and/or dietary behaviour apps from the New Zealand Apple App Store Health & Fitness category were downloaded to an iPhone. Four independent raters user-tested and coded each app for the presence/absence of BCTs using the taxonomy of behaviour change techniques (26 BCTs in total). The number of BCTs included in the 40 apps was calculated. Krippendorff's alpha was used to evaluate interrater reliability for each of the 26 BCTs.

RESULTS: Apps included an average of 8.1 (range 2-18) techniques, the number being slightly higher for paid (M = 9.7, range 2-18) than free apps (M = 6.6, range 3-14). The most frequently included BCTs were "provide instruction" (83% of the apps), "set graded tasks" (70%), and "prompt self-monitoring" (60%). Techniques such as "teach to use prompts/cues", "agree on behavioural contract", "relapse prevention" and "time management" were not present in the apps reviewed. Interrater reliability coefficients ranged from 0.1 to 0.9 (Mean 0.6, SD = 0.2).

CONCLUSIONS: Presence of BCTs varied by app type and price; however, BCTs associated with increased intervention effectiveness were in general more common in paid apps. The taxonomy checklist can be used by independent raters to reliably identify BCTs in physical activity and dietary behaviour smartphone apps.
Language eng
DOI 10.1186/1471-2458-14-646
Field of Research 110699 Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified
1117 Public Health And Health Services
Socio Economic Objective 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2014, Direito et al.
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30081450

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