Physical Activity Maintenance in African American Men

Physical Activity Maintenance in African American Men

In a recent publication in mHealth, Dr. Robert Newton, Dr. Valerie Myers, and their coauthors describe the development of a smartphone app to help African American men maintain physical activity. The formative research was funded by a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant to Klein Buendel from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities.

African American men experience higher rates of morbidity and mortality from several chronic diseases that have low physical activity as a modifiable risk factor. For example, increased levels of physical activity have been shown to reduce the risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Yet, African American men’s levels of regular physical activity remain low.

The study set out to develop and test the feasibility of a prototype smartphone app to promote physical activity maintenance in African American men. The publication describes formative research (focus groups), user-centered design, and evaluation (usability testing and one-month beta testing) of the MobileMen app through an iterative process with participants from the target population.

MobileMen and its learning activities were designed with a Social Cognitive Theory framework. The programmed app included a dashboard, learning activities, a prompting system, an activity tracker, and rewards.

Users reported above average satisfaction with the app. They also rated the app as user-friendly, helpful, enjoyable, and culturally relevant. The participants reported willingness to use the app to improve their physical activity. Rates of app use and other data are reported in the paper. A full description of the methods, results, conclusions, strengths, and limitations of the feasibility study, as well as a discussion on the inclusion of nutrition information, can be found in the mHealth publication.

The STTR Phase I project was funded by grant number MD010304 (Dr. Robert Newton, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Principal Investigator). Coauthors include Dr. Valerie Myers and Tiffany Jerrod from Klein Buendel, Leah Carter and Jessica Romain from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and Dr. Derek Griffith from Vanderbilt University.

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