Gamified Health Intervention Improves Postpartum Physical Activity: JAMA
Postpartum women's recovery from birth can be assisted through increased physical activity (PA). However, women face substantial barriers to participating in exercise and require support to enable them to benefit from increased PA. In a recent study, researchers reported that digital health interventions using behavioural strategies result in increased physical activity among...
Postpartum women's recovery from birth can be assisted through increased physical activity (PA). However, women face substantial barriers to participating in exercise and require support to enable them to benefit from increased PA. In a recent study, researchers reported that digital health interventions using behavioural strategies result in increased physical activity among postpartum individuals at elevated cardiovascular risk. The study findings were published in the JAMA Cardiology on April 20, 2022.
Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, yet few interventions have targeted this population to decrease long-term risk. Therefore, Dr Jennifer Lewey and her team conducted a study to determine whether a digital health intervention improves the physical activity in postpartum individuals with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.
In this 12-week randomized trial, the researcher enrolled 127 postpartum individuals who delivered at the University of Pennsylvania and had a hypertensive disorder during pregnancy. The patients received a wearable activity tracker, established a baseline step count, selected a step goal greater than baseline, and were randomly assigned to control or intervention. Patients in the control arm (n=64) received daily feedback on goal attainment. Meanwhile, patients in the intervention arm (n=63) were placed on virtual teams and enrolled in a game with points and levels for daily step goal achievement and informed by principles of behavioural economics. The major outcome assessed was a change in mean daily step count from baseline to 12-week follow-up. They also assessed the proportion of participant-days that step goal was achieved.
Key findings of the study:
- The researchers noted that the mean (SD) baseline step count was similar in the control and intervention arms (6042  vs 6175  steps, respectively).
- After adjustment for baseline steps and calendar month, they found that the participants in the intervention arm had a significantly greater increase in mean daily step steps from baseline compared with the control arm (647 steps).
- Compared with the control arm, they observed that the participants in the intervention arm achieved their steps goals on a greater proportion of participant-days during the intervention period (0.47 vs 0.38; adjusted difference 0.11).
The authors concluded, "In this study, a digital health intervention using remote monitoring, gamification, and social incentives among postpartum individuals at elevated cardiovascular risk significantly increased physical activity throughout 12 weeks."
For further information:
Postpartum health, Digital health interventions, Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, physical activity, remote monitoring, gamification, social incentives, Women's health, lifestyle behaviour, Pregnancy, hypertension, Healthcare delivery model, JAMA Cardiology.
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