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What do people with osteoarthritis think about using a digital behaviour change intervention to support physical activity?

Berry, Alice; Walsh, Nicola; McCabe, Candy


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Dr Alice Berry
Associate Professor of Rehabilitation

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Nicola Walsh
Professor in Knowledge Mobilisation & Muscul

Candy McCabe
Professor of Clinical Research and Practice


Osteoarthritis (OA) affects 8.75 million people in the UK. Physical activity (PA) is recommended as a core treatment, yet nearly half of people with OA are inactive. Accessible and user-friendly interventions are needed to motivate people with OA to be active. Digital behaviour change interventions (DBCIs) might help to support people with OA to self-manage their own levels of PA.

The aim of this project was to explore usability and acceptability of a prototype digital behaviour change intervention aimed at facilitating sustained engagement with physical activity, for people with osteoarthritis.

A qualitative approach was adopted to investigate what a group of potential users thought about a previously developed prototype digital intervention. Two data collection methods were used: information about how potential users might use the intervention were explored using a ‘think-aloud’ method; and semi-structured interviews were carried out (guided by the theoretical framework of acceptability – TFA) to understand how acceptable the content was to potential users, including its relevance, coherence, and the perceived amount of effort required to use the intervention.

Think-aloud sessions and in-depth interviews were carried out with seven participants. 86% of the sample were female, mean age was 73 years (SD=13.2).
Data were coded deductively using the TFA (Sekhon et al., 2018) and guided by the six steps of thematic analysis (Clarke & Braun, 2017).
Five themes were identified: Theme 1: Knowledge was valued, and beliefs about the benefits of PA for OA were positive; Theme 2: The value (and burden) of setting goals; Theme 3: The impact of competing life priorities; Theme 4: Being active with others, and social support; Theme 5: Maintaining professional support, whilst independently self-monitoring.

This paper highlights the value of using semi-structured interviews and think-aloud sessions to explore the usability and acceptability of a digital behaviour change interventions for physical activity engagement. Interviews and think-aloud sessions explored attitudes, values, and the perceived effectiveness of the website. Potential users highlighted the importance of clear, easy to understand information, focusing on enjoyment and social connectedness. Digital behaviour change interventions should be based on theory, adequately described, and thoroughly tested with potential users to understand how they might choose to integrate digital interventions into everyday life.

Presentation Conference Type Poster
Conference Name 9th International Society for Physical Activity and Health Congress, October 2022
Start Date Oct 23, 2022
End Date Oct 26, 2022
Deposit Date Feb 9, 2023
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