Acceptability of a Mobile Health Behavior Change Intervention for Cancer Survivors With Obesity or Overweight: Nested Mixed Methods Study Within a Randomized Controlled Trial

Jenny M Groarke*, Janice Richmond, Jenny McSharry, AnnMarie Groarke, Owen M Harney, Mary Grace Kelly, Jane C Walsh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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A significant proportion of cancer survivors have overweight or obesity. Although this has negative implications for health, weight management is not a standard component of oncology aftercare. Mobile health (mHealth) technology, in combination with behavior change techniques (BCTs), has the potential to support positive lifestyle changes. Few studies have been carried out with cancer survivors; therefore, the acceptability of these tools and techniques requires further investigation.

The aim of this study is to examine the acceptability of a behavior change intervention using mHealth for cancer survivors with a BMI of 25 or more and to gather constructive feedback from participants.

The intervention consisted of educational sessions and an 8-week physical activity goal setting intervention delivered using mobile technology (ie, Fitbit activity monitor plus SMS contact). In the context of a two-arm randomized controlled trial, semistructured interviews were conducted to assess the retrospective acceptability of the intervention from the perspective of the recipients. The theoretical framework for the acceptability of health care interventions was used to inform a topic guide. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using thematic analysis. A quantitative survey was also conducted to determine the acceptability of the intervention. A total of 13 participants were interviewed, and 36 participants completed the quantitative survey.

The results strongly support the acceptability of the intervention. The majority of the survey respondents held a positive attitude toward the intervention (35/36, 97%). In qualitative reports, many of the intervention components were enjoyed and the mHealth components (ie, Fitbit and goal setting through text message contact) were rated especially positively. Responses were mixed as to whether the burden of participating in the intervention was high (6/36, 17%) or low (5/36, 14%). Participants perceived the intervention as having high efficacy in improving health and well-being (34/36, 94%). Most respondents said that they understood how the intervention works (35/36, 97%), and qualitative data show that participants’ understanding of the aim of the intervention was broader than weight management and focused more on moving on psychologically from cancer.

On the basis of the coherence of responses with theorized aspects of intervention acceptability, we are confident that this intervention using mHealth and BCTs is acceptable to cancer survivors with obesity or overweight. Participants made several recommendations concerning the additional provision of social support. Future studies are needed to assess the feasibility of delivery in clinical practice and the acceptability of the intervention to those delivering the intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere18288
Number of pages12
JournalJMIR Mhealth and Uhealth
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2021


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