American Physican Therapy Combined Sections Meeting

Document Type

Conference Proceeding




Purpose/Hypothesis: Isolated rural men are considered a health disparities group at high risk for cardiovascular disease. The increasing availability of technologies for self-monitoring for healthy eating, activity and weight loss (ie mHealth) may show promise for engaging rural men in lifestyle modification. This study investigated the feasibility of men from rural isolated areas to use a fitness monitor with text messaging support over a 3- week period. The study examined the men’s daily monitor use for tracking activity and eating, and assessed via written survey, their perspectives about mHealth.

Number of Subjects: Twelve men, ages 40 to 69, from a US Department of Agriculture defined isolated rural area, participated. These men were a purposive sample originally recruited to participate in a focus group about their perceptions of the utility of mHealth. The men (50.9 6 8.6 yrs) had a baseline BMI of 25 to 44 kg/m2 (34.8 6 6.6 kg/m2). Eligibility included having cell/smartphones capable of sending/ receiving text messages, access to a computer, willing to use a fitness monitor and have research personnel access the men’s logs.

Materials/Methods: Men participated in 2 visits at a community center located within 70 miles of their residence, at baseline and 3 weeks. Assessments included baseline health histories and vital sign biomarkers. The men received training using the fitness monitor with supporting technologies (cell/ smartphone and computer) and were asked to wear the monitor daily for 3 weeks. Men received 1–3 text messages/day for 3 weeks for reminders, education and motivation for self-monitoring. At visit 2, men completed post-intervention surveys about their fitness monitoring. Descriptive data were used for analysis.

Results: Men were overweight (n 5 3) or obese (n 5 9) and most (9/12) were hypertensive with only four being treated with medications. One man was hypertensive stage 2 under no treatment and another was pre-hypertensive. Nine of 12 men wore the monitor during all 21 days, two wore it 9 and 15 days respectively and one lost the monitor. Survey data of the 12 men revealed seven checking their step count more than 5 times/day, 6 reported using the associated smart phone app and seven used the optional sleep log feature. Eleven of 12 men manually entered food into the log and most (9/12) did this on $15 days. Ten men indicated the log was helpful in learning about eating; though only 3 indicated it was easy to log food. All men reported reading reminder and motivational text messages sent during the study and 11 plan to continue using the fitness monitor.

Conclusions: Men were not well managed for blood pressure or overweight/obesity. Both the log records and the survey results indicated that using fitness monitors was feasible and acceptable among this population.

Clinical Relevance: Using mHealth appears feasible as an action-oriented tool for therapists to recommend for lifestyle self-monitoring in isolated rural men. The findings reinforce the important role of therapists in routinely assessing vital signs and making referrals as appropriate.