A Fitbit and Facebook mHealth intervention for promoting physical activity among adolescent and young adult childhood cancer survivors: A pilot study

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Abstract

Background

Physical activity (PA) may be important for preventing chronic diseases for adolescent and young adult (AYA) childhood cancer survivors. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of PA interventions for AYA survivors are sparse, but necessary to determine effective programs for increasing PA among this population. Thus, we conducted a pilot RCT, testing the feasibility of a mobile health (mHealth) intervention to promote PA among AYA survivors.

Procedure

We recruited 14– to 18–year–olds who were ≥1-year post cancer therapy from Seattle Children's Hospital. The 10-week intervention consisted of a wearable PA-tracking device (Fitbit Flex) and a peer-based virtual support group (Facebook group). Research staff helped set step goals and awarded badges weekly. Controls received usual care. Baseline assessments occurred before randomization and follow-up assessments occurred during weeks 8–10 of the intervention period. Feasibility criteria are defined below. Qualitative interviews assessed acceptability. Exploratory outcomes included PA, quality of life, and motivation for PA.

Results

All feasibility criteria were met: we recruited 60 survivors, intervention participants wore the Fitbit on the majority (71.5%) of intervention days, and ≥90% of all participants completed questionnaires. Qualitative data confirmed intervention acceptability. Exploratory analyses found no significant adjusted group differences for change in moderate-to-vigorous PA (4.4 vs. 5.0 min/day; P = 0.92) or sedentary time (−4.5 vs. 1.0 min/day; P = 0.73), comparing intervention subjects to controls. Some modest differences were found for select subscales of quality of life and motivation for PA.

Conclusions

This mHealth PA intervention was feasible and acceptable to AYA childhood cancer survivors and warrants a fully powered RCT.

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