Background: Innovative physical activity monitoring technology can be used to depict rich visual feedback that encompasses the various aspects of physical activity known to be important for health. However, it is unknown whether patients who are at risk of chronic disease would understand such sophisticated personalised feedback or whether they would find it useful and motivating. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether technology-enabled multidimensional physical activity graphics and visualisations are comprehensible and usable for patients at risk of chronic disease.
Method: We developed several iterations of graphics depicting minute-by-minute activity patterns and integrated physical activity health targets. Subsequently, patients at moderate/high risk of chronic disease (n=29) and healthcare practitioners (n=15) from South West England underwent full 7-days activity monitoring followed by individual semi-structured interviews in which they were asked to comment on their own personalised visual feedback Framework analysis was used to gauge their interpretation and of personalised feedback, graphics and visualisations.
Results: We identified two main components focussing on (a) the interpretation of feedback designs and data and (b) the impact of personalised visual physical activity feedback on facilitation of health behaviour change. Participants demonstrated a clear ability to understand the sophisticated personal information plus an enhanced physical activity knowledge. They reported that receiving multidimensional feedback was motivating and could be usefully applied to facilitate their efforts in becoming more physically active.
Conclusion: Multidimensional physical activity feedback can be made comprehensible, informative and motivational by using appropriate graphics and visualisations. There is an opportunity to exploit the full potential created by technological innovation and provide sophisticated personalised physical activity feedback as an adjunct to support behaviour change.