The use of diffusion of innovation theory is explored in the context of health promotion, using tracking devices as a potentially valuable resource in improving weight control in some patient populations. The purpose of such a program is designed to increase self-management techniques using specific applications that will improve health behaviors and encourage patients to be proactive in expanding the reach of these applications across larger demographic groups (Blondon, Hebert, & Ralston, 2014). A recent study involving the Fitbit device was designed to evaluate physical activity and to determine its effectiveness in targeting an increase in activity among the target population (Cadmus-Bertram, Marcus, Patterson, Parker, & Morey, 2015).
Target Population and Location of Program
This intervention included 25 women who were overweight or obese at postmenopausal stage, using the Fitbit tracker in order to evaluate individual physical activity levels over a 16-week period, with training and guidance provided regarding the use of this tool (Cadmus-Bertram et.al, 2015). In addition, patients were required to attend study visits and to discuss their progress over the phone at predetermined intervals, including the steps walked and their commitment to maintaining or increasing their level of physical activity throughout the duration of the program (Cadmus-Bertram et.al, 2015).
Use of Diffusion of Innovation
This program was specifically designed for a target audience of postmenopausal women, all of whom were educated regarding the purpose of the program and their responsibilities as participants (Cadmus-Bertram et.al, 2015). With any type of intervention of this nature, it is important to acknowledge that different demographic groups are more likely to embrace these types of technologies when they recognize the overall simplicity of these devices once they have a grasp of their function and purpose (Darzi, 2015). In addition, innovative ideas in healthcare practice may increase in popularity if changes in individual behaviors are subtle and do not require significant thought or input by the user but may have a significant impact on health-related outcomes (Darzi, 2015).
Determinants of Health
Individual health status is a critical factor in the use of technologies and wearable devices to track physical activity; furthermore, it is possible that those who possess specific health risks or who fear disease or other negative health outcomes are more likely to consider the use of these devices on a regular basis. Therefore, weight, the prevalence or risk of chronic diseases, and long-term health factors must be considered with this type of program.
Methods Used to Implement Program Interventions
The use of the Fitbit to track physical activity over a 16-week period was established with a goal to increase moderate physical activity to a rate of 150 minutes per week, along with 10,000 steps per day (Cadmus-Bertram et.al, 2015). All participants received their own individual goals and were provided with support and monitoring throughout the program in order to evaluate progress (Cadmus-Bertram et.al, 2015).
Results of the Program
The program results indicate that at the median level, participants logged approximately ten hours of total activity on a daily basis, with 7,540 steps per day and 82 minutes of moderate physical activity per week (Cadmus-Bertram et.al, 2015). In addition, physical activity was stable throughout most of the 16-week monitoring period (Cadmus-Bertram et.al, 2015).
Limitations of the Program
This program possesses some limitations, particularly for those persons who might not understand how the Fitbit device works and its overall value. In addition, the device may be cost prohibitive for some individuals and therefore, they may not be likely to purchase the device for their own personal use. This reflects a need to evaluate the cost of the device, the likelihood of purchase, as well as whether or not individuals will experience a higher level of motivation to engage in physical activity as a result of the device.
Recommendations for Program Changes
Future evaluations of programs or clinical trials that involve the use of the Fitbit or other wearable tracking devices must consider the overall health status of potential participants, obtain information regarding the perspectives of these individuals regarding physical activity and overall health, and determine the best possible means of retention and sustainability in order to maintain healthier lifestyles that will influence change, progress, and quality of life. The program must emphasize the importance of shaping an environment that will encourage all adults to participate in physical activities on a more regular basis as a means of recognizing its benefits for improved health and wellbeing.
In general, the increased use of wearable technologies is a critical component in supporting motivation to engage in physical activity for adolescents and adults (Sultan, 2015). In this context, it is necessary to consider that this innovation is not a new concept, but the response that is required to initiate behavioral change may be challenging for some persons, including older adults; as a result, there must be a greater emphasis on the ease of the technology and its use, along with the information that it generates that contributes to the potential improvement of health and wellbeing (Sultan, 2015). This is an important step towards the discovery of personal motivation that may have a significant impact on health and wellbeing throughout the life span (Sultan, 2015).
- Blondon, K.S., Hebert, P.L., & Ralston, J.D. (2014). An exploration of the potential reach of smartphones in diabetes. AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings Archive, 289-296.
- Cadmus-Bertram, L., Marcus, B.H., Patterson, R.E., Parker, B.A., & Morey, B.L. (2015). Use of the Fitbit to measure adherence to a physical activity intervention among overweight or obese, postmenopausal women: self-monitoring trajectory during 16 weeks. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 3(4), e96. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4705008/
- Darzi, L. (2015). How health care innovation spreads. Retrieved from
- Sultan, N. (2015). Reflective thoughts on the potential and challenges of wearable technology for healthcare provision and medical education. International Journal of Information
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