A Text-Messaging and Pedometer Program to Promote Physical Activity in People at High Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: The Development of the PROPELS Follow-On Support Program.

22 Jun 2018

BACKGROUND: Mobile technologies for health (mHealth) represent a promising strategy for reducing type 2 diabetes (T2DM) risk. The PROPELS trial investigates whether structured group-based education alone or supplemented with a follow-on support program combining self-monitoring with pedometers and tailored text-messaging is effective in promoting and maintaining physical activity among people at high risk of T2DM. OBJECTIVE: This paper describes the iterative development of the PROPELS follow-on support program and presents evidence on its acceptability and feasibility. METHODS: We used a modified mHealth development framework with four phases: (1) conceptualization of the follow-on support program using theory and evidence, (2) formative research including focus groups (n=15, ages 39-79 years), (3) pre-testing focus groups using a think aloud protocol (n=20, ages 52-78 years), and (4) piloting (n=11). Analysis was informed by the constant comparative approach, with findings from each phase informing subsequent phases. RESULTS: The first three phases informed the structure, nature, and content of the follow-on support program, including the frequency of text messages, the need for tailored content and two-way interaction, the importance of motivational messages based on encouragement and reinforcement of affective benefits (eg, enjoyment) with minimal messages about weight and T2DM risk, and the need for appropriate language. The refined program is personalized and tailored to the individual's perceived confidence, previous activity levels, and physical activity goals. The pilot phase indicated that the program appeared to fit well with everyday routines and was easy to use by older adults. CONCLUSIONS: We developed a feasible and innovative text messaging and pedometer program based on evidence and behavior change theory and grounded in the experiences, views, and needs of people at high diabetes risk. A large scale trial is testing the effectiveness of this 4-year program over and above structured group education alone. TRIAL REGISTRATION: International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN): 83465245; http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN83465245/83465245 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6dfSmrVAe).