Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A mHealth cardiac rehabilitation exercise intervention: findings from content development studies

Leila Pfaeffli1*, Ralph Maddison1, Robyn Whittaker1, Ralph Stewart2, Andrew Kerr3, Yannan Jiang1, Geoff Kira1, Karen Carter1 and Lance Dalleck4

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

2 Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

3 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

4 Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2012, 12:36  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-12-36

Published: 30 May 2012

Abstract

Background

Involving stakeholders and consumers throughout the content and study design ensures interventions are engaging and relevant for end-users. The aim of this paper is to present the content development process for a mHealth (mobile phone and internet-based) cardiac rehabilitation (CR) exercise intervention.

Methods

An innovative mHealth intervention was developed with patient input using the following steps: conceptualization, formative research, pre-testing, and pilot testing. Conceptualization, including theoretical and technical aspects, was undertaken by experts. For the formative component, focus groups and interviews with cardiac patients were conducted to discuss their perceptions of a mHealth CR program. A general inductive thematic approach identified common themes. A preliminary library of text and video messages were then developed. Participants were recruited from CR education sessions to pre-test and provide feedback on the content using an online survey. Common responses were extracted and compiled. An iterative process was used to refine content prior to pilot testing and conduct of a randomized controlled trial.

Results

38 CR patients and 3 CR nurses participated in the formative research and 20 CR patients participated in the content pre-testing. Participants perceived the mHealth program as an effective approach to inform and motivate patients to exercise. For the qualitative study, 100% (nā€‰=ā€‰41) of participants thought it to be a good idea, and 11% of participants felt it might not be useful for them, but would be for others. Of the 20 participants who completed the online survey, 17 out of 20 (85%) stated they would sign up to a program where they could receive information by video messages on a website, and 12 out of 20 (60%) showed interest in a texting program. Some older CR patients viewed technology as a potential barrier as they were unfamiliar with text messaging or did not have mobile phones. Steps to instruct participants to receive texts and view the website were written into the study protocol. Suggestions to improve videos and wording of texts were fed back to the content development team and refined.

Conclusions

Most participants thought a mHealth exercise program was an effective way to deliver exercise-based CR. The results were used to develop an innovative multimedia exercise intervention. A randomized controlled trial is currently underway.

Trial registration

ACTRN12611000117910

Keywords:
Cardiac rehabilitation; Exercise; Telemedicine; Internet