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Usage and weekly attrition in a smartphone-based health behavior intervention for adolescents : Pilot randomized controlled trial

Usage and weekly attrition in a smartphone-based health behavior intervention for adolescents : Pilot randomized controlled trial


Title: Usage and weekly attrition in a smartphone-based health behavior intervention for adolescents : Pilot randomized controlled trial
Author: Egilsson, Erlendur
Bjarnason, Ragnar Grímur
Njarðvík, Urður
Date: 2021-02-17
Language: English
Scope: e21432
University/Institute: Landspitali - The National University Hospital of Iceland
Department: Faculty of Psychology
Faculty of Medicine
Women's and Childrens's Services
Series: JMIR Formative Research; 5(2)
ISSN: 2561-326X
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2196/21432
Subject: Unglingar; Smáforrit; Geðheilsa; Adolescent; Attrition; Behavior; Intervention; Mental health; MHealth; Physical activity; Self-efficacy; Young adult; Health Informatics; Medicine (miscellaneous)
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/3147

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Citation:

Egilsson , E , Bjarnason , R G & Njarðvík , U 2021 , ' Usage and weekly attrition in a smartphone-based health behavior intervention for adolescents : Pilot randomized controlled trial ' , JMIR Formative Research , vol. 5 , no. 2 , e21432 , pp. e21432 . https://doi.org/10.2196/21432

Abstract:

BACKGROUND: The majority of adolescents own smartphones, although only 8% of them use health apps. Attrition rates from adolescent mobile health (mHealth) interventions for treating mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are an issue with a high degree of variation. Attrition in mHealth interventions targeting adolescent populations is frequently presented in a two-point fashion, from initiation of the intervention to the end of treatment, lacking more time-specific information on usage and times of attrition. Self-efficacy could provide an avenue to lower attrition rates, although a better understanding of the relationship between mental health factors and time-specific attrition rates is needed. OBJECTIVE: The aims of this study were to obtain time-specific attrition rates among adolescents in an mHealth intervention, and to describe the intervention's usage and feasibility in relation to adolescent self-efficacy levels, and emotional and physical health. METHODS: A single-center randomized controlled public school pilot trial was undertaken with 41 adolescents. Outcome measures were assessed at baseline and after 6 weeks, while in-app activity and attrition rates were continually assessed throughout the intervention period. The primary outcome was attrition based on time and type of in-app health behavior usage, and feasibility of the mHealth app. Secondary outcome measures were self-efficacy levels, depressive and anxiety symptoms, as well as standardized BMI and sleep. Analyses of group mean variances with adjusted α levels through Bonferroni corrections were used to assess main outcome effects. RESULTS: The attrition from initiation of the intervention to 6-week follow up was 35%. Attrition started in the third week of the intervention and was related to daily time of app usage (R t=0.43, P<.001). The number of average weekly in-app health exercises completed decreased significantly from the first week of the intervention (mean 55.25, SD 10.96) to the next week (mean 13.63, SD 2.94). However, usage increased by 22% between week 2 and the last week of the intervention (mean 16.69, SD 8.37). Usability measures revealed satisfactory scores (mean 78.09, SD 9.82) without gender differences (P=.85). Self-reported daily physical activity increased by 19.61% in the intervention group but dropped by 26.21% among controls. Self-efficacy levels increased by 8.23% in the invention arm compared to a 3.03% decrease in the control group. CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study demonstrated the feasibility and usability of an mHealth intervention among adolescent participants. Indications were toward beneficial effects on physical and mental health that warrant further research. Focus on time-specific attrition measures alongside daily times of usage and ways to increase participants' self-efficacy levels appear to be a promising avenue for research on mHealth interventions for adolescent populations with the aim to ultimately lower attrition rates.

Description:

Funding Information: The authors wish to thank the officials of the participating public school. The study was partially funded by a research grant from the Icelandic Research Fund (IRF 141381051). Publisher Copyright: © Erlendur Egilsson, Ragnar Bjarnason, Urdur Njardvik.

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