Study: Mobile devices, Internet help to spur healthy behaviors

Photo credit: Getty/filrom

Mobile devices and Internet access can help to drive heart-healthy behaviors such as eating better and being more active, new research finds, but it’s not yet clear if such behavior changes are sustainable.

The study, which evaluated 224 research efforts conducted between 1990 and 2013, was published in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. According to the authors, a good number of research-based mHealth and Internet interventions reviewed lasted less than six months.

“Programs that have components such as goal setting and self-monitoring and use multiple modes of communication with tailored messages tended to be more effective,” lead study author Ashkan Afshin , an acting assistant professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in an announcement. “We also found these programs were more effective if they included some interactions with healthcare providers.”

Mobile technology within the cardiac treatment and management environment is of increasing interest to providers and patients, given cost-effectiveness and the potential to reduce hospital stay time and spur patients to be more proactive in health efforts.

Yet there are some formidable challenges, according to a report in JAMA Cardiology, including a need to better integrate health record data, better oversight by care teams in patient mobile app use and a need for a rigorous study of validation, effectiveness and real-world implementations.

Afshin, citing gaps in Internet and mobile-based intervention studies, said there must be research on the long-term value and effectiveness among various populations.