Implementing a Sedentary Behavior Change Smartphone App in Cardiac Rehabilitation

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Background: Smartphone apps used in research offer a variety of capabilities to track and influence behavior; however, they often do not translate well into real-world use. Implementation strategies for using apps to reduce sedentary behavior in cardiac rehabilitation are currently unknown. Objective: The aim of this study was to explore (1) barriers and enablers for use of a behavioral smartphone app (Vire and ToDo-CR program) for reducing sedentary behavior in cardiac rehabilitation participants and (2) implementation strategies for future smartphone apps aimed at reducing sedentary behavior in this population. Methods: In-depth semistructured interviews were conducted with cardiac rehabilitation participants in the ToDo-CR randomized controlled trial. Participants had used the Vire app and a wearable activity tracker for 6 months. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. The researchers used thematic analysis and deductive mapping of themes to the Theoretical Domains Framework and the Capability, Opportunity, and Motivation-Behavior model. Sociodemographic and clinical variables were recorded. Results: Fifteen participants aged 59 ± 14 years were interviewed. Most were male, tertiary educated, and employed, and had varying experiences with smartphone apps and wearable activity trackers. Five core themes explaining the user experiences of cardiac rehabilitation participants with the Vire app were identified: (1) being tech savvy can be both an enabler and a barrier, (2) app messaging needs to be clear— set expectations from the beginning, (3) get to know me—personalization is important, (4) curious to know more instant feedback, and (5) first impression is key. The themes and subthemes mapped to 12 of the 14 Theoretical Domains Framework domains. Improving engagement and implementation of future smartphone apps for sedentary behavior may be aided by building psychological capability, physical opportunity, and reflective motivation. Conclusions: Shifting to in-the-moment behavioral nudges, setting clear expectations, assisting participants to monitor their sitting time, increasing the frequency of tailoring, and understanding more about the participant as well as their experiences and needs for reducing sedentary behavior in cardiac rehabilitation are important future directions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Nursing
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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