The understanding, acceptability, and relevance of personalised multidimensional physical activity feedback among urban adults: evidence from a qualitative feasibility study in Sri Lanka

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Wearable technologies are being used to provide personalised feedback across multiple physical activity dimensions in countries such as the UK, but their feasibility has not been tested in South Asia, where physical inactivity is increasing. This study assessed the understanding, acceptability, and relevance of personalised multidimensional physical activity feedback in urban dwellers in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

A qualitative feasibility study was conducted among 35 adults to assess a community-based approach to provide multidimensional physical activity feedback. Healthy adults, adults at risk of non-communicable diseases and community-based primary healthcare professionals wore a physical activity monitor for 7 days and were then guided through their personalised multidimensional physical activity feedback. One-to-one interviews were conducted, transcribed verbatim and analysed using framework analysis.

Four themes were generated: understanding of personalised physical activity feedback, perceived novelty of the feedback, motivation, and consideration of the multidimensional nature of physical activity. A majority of participants required guidance initially to understand the feedback, following which most were quickly able to interpret the data shown, and were willing to use the feedback as a basis for identifying goals to improve physical activity. Participants perceived the feedback and its delivery as novel because it provided new knowledge about physical activity guidelines and awareness on their own behaviour through graphics. Comparisons of personal performance against recommended physical activity levels and information on sedentary time were the most commonly motivating aspects of the feedback, prompting talk about behaviour change. All three groups showed poor planning on goal achievement, with some noticeable differences between those with and without health risk of non-communicable diseases. Following the feedback, most participants understood that physical activity is composed of several dimensions, while around half could recognise more suitable options to change behaviour. Of the physical activity dimensions, calorie burn received more attention than others.

Multidimensional physical activity feedback was considered understandable and acceptable and has the potential to support behaviour change among urban Sri Lankans with or without identified health risk. These findings highlight the feasibility of this technology-enabled approach as a personalised intervention to improve knowledge and motivation for physical activity behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2021

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