Computerised decision support in physical activity interventions: A systematic literature review
Abstract Background The benefits of regular physical activity for health and quality of life are unarguable. New information, sensing and communication technologies have the potential to play a critical role in computerised decision support and coaching for physical activity. Objectives We provide a literature review of recent research in the development of physical activity interventions employing computerised decision support, their feasibility and effectiveness in healthy and diseased individuals, and map out challenges and future research directions. Methods We searched the bibliographic databases of PubMed and Scopus to identify physical activity interventions with computerised decision support utilised in a real-life context. Studies were synthesized according to the target user group, the technological format (e.g., web-based or mobile-based) and decision-support features of the intervention, the theoretical model for decision support in health behaviour change, the study design, the primary outcome, the number of participants and their engagement with the intervention, as well as the total follow-up duration. Results From the 24 studies included in the review, the highest percentage (n = 7, 29%) targeted sedentary healthy individuals followed by patients with prediabetes/diabetes (n = 4, 17%) or overweight individuals (n = 4, 17%). Most randomized controlled trials reported significantly positive effects of the interventions, i.e., increase in physical activity (n = 7, 100%) for 7 studies assessing physical activity measures, weight loss (n = 3, 75%) for 4 studies assessing diet, and reductions in glycosylated hemoglobin (n = 2, 66%) for 3 studies assessing glycose concentration. Accelerometers/pedometers were used in almost half of the studies (n = 11, 46%). Most adopted decision support features included personalised goal-setting (n = 16, 67%) and motivational feedback sent to the users (n = 15, 63%). Fewer adopted features were integration with electronic health records (n = 3, 13%) and alerts sent to caregivers (n = 4, 17%). Theoretical models of decision support in health behaviour to drive the development of the intervention were not reported in most studies (n = 14, 58%). Conclusions Interventions employing computerised decision support have the potential to promote physical activity and result in health benefits for both diseased and healthy individuals, and help healthcare providers to monitor patients more closely. Objectively measured activity through sensing devices, integration with clinical systems used by healthcare providers and theoretical frameworks for health behaviour change need to be employed in a larger scale in future studies in order to realise the development of evidence-based computerised systems for physical activity monitoring and coaching. Highlights A review of computerised decision support for physical activity was conducted. Goal setting and motivational feedback were the most common features. Interventions targeting physical activity outcomes were effective. Theoretical models for health behaviour were adopted in effective interventions. Graphical abstract [DISPLAY OMISSION]
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