Use of a smartphone app versus motivational interviewing to increase walking distance and weight loss in overweight/obese adults with peripheral arterial disease

Newswise – Peripheral arterial disease, a painful condition affecting older people, is caused by a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels of the arms and legs that restricts circulation. Smoking, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol are contributing factors.

Claudication, the painful cramps felt by patients in the extremities, affects their quality of life. “It’s really bad circulation in the legs,” said Tracie CollinsMD, MPH, Dean of The University of New Mexico (UNM) College of Population Health. “It compromises your ability to walk.”

Medication can help relieve symptoms, but taking regular walks is the most effective way to regain mobility. The trick is to get patients to follow their doctor’s advice when walking is painful.

In a pilot study published online this week in The Journal of Formative ResearchCollins and his colleagues at UNM and the University of Kansas (where she taught before joining UNM in 2019) compared the effectiveness of an individual technique called motivational interviewing (MID) with a mobile application specially developed to encourage people to walk and lose weight.

The study was small – with only 25 participants completing the three-month intervention. Participants were tested at the start to see how far they could walk in six minutes and were assessed for weight, quality of life, exercise behaviors and eating habits.

Then they were randomized into two groups. One participated in MI, with a single one-hour face-to-face meeting with a health counselor, followed by four 20-minute phone check-ins. The other group used the smartphone app, which allowed users to enter walking plans, track walking intervals and log episodic pain. There were also in-app notifications to encourage patient use, as well as diet and exercise management.

After three months, participants underwent another health assessment. Those who had undergone MI showed significantly greater improvements in their walking distance and lost more weight than patients who relied on the phone app alone.

“With MI, you have this human touch,“Collins said. “You have the ability to work with someone on what you could do differently. It was just more personal.

Researchers, who hope to continue developing the app, weren’t intimidated by its lackluster performance.
“It just means we need to work more on the app and try to improve it,” said Collins. “We are working on another app which will be more sophisticated and will be compatible with Android and Mac iOS.”

Original post:
Collins T, Geana M, Overton K, Benton M, Lu L, Khan F, Rohleder M, Ahluwalia J, Resnicow K, Zhu Y. Using a smartphone app versus motivational interviewing to increase walking distance and weight loss weight in overweight/obese adults with peripheral arterial disease: a randomized pilot trial. Form JMIR Res 2022;6(1):e30295

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PMID: 35113020

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