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Implementation of the goal-setting components in popular physical activity apps: Review and content analysis

Baretta, D; Bondaronek, P; Direito, A; Steca, P; (2019) Implementation of the goal-setting components in popular physical activity apps: Review and content analysis. Digital Health , 5 (1-10) 10.1177/2055207619862706. Green open access

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Abstract

Objective: Goal setting is an effective strategy to promote physical activity. Commercial apps that tackle physical activity often include goal setting; however, it is unknown whether the implementation of the goal-setting components is congruent with the theory. This study evaluated the quality of goal setting in popular free and paid physical activity apps by assessing the presence of effective goal-setting components. Methods: A six-item scale was developed based on the goal-setting literature and used for coding each app for the presence/absence of goal-setting components (i.e. specificity, difficulty, action planning, timeframe, goal evaluation and goal re-evaluation). Cohen's Kappa was used to evaluate inter-rater reliability for each scale item. The number of goal-setting components included in the 40 apps was calculated and the difference between free and paid apps was assessed. Results: All scale items achieved satisfactory inter-rater reliability except 'goal evaluation'. The most frequently included goal-setting components in popular physical activity apps were 'goal specificity' (95% of the apps) and 'goal timeframe' (67.5%). Conversely, only 47.5% and 25% of the apps implemented 'action planning' and 'goal difficulty', respectively, and none included 'goal re-evaluation'. No differences emerged between free and paid apps. Conclusions: The quality of the goal-setting strategy in popular physical activity apps could be improved by introducing components scarcely implemented to date. In particular, tailoring the goal difficulty to the users' ability level and re-evaluating the goals based on achievements should be implemented to increase the quality of goal setting.

Type: Article
Title: Implementation of the goal-setting components in popular physical activity apps: Review and content analysis
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/2055207619862706
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/2055207619862706
Language: English
Additional information: Creative Commons CC BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Keywords: Content analysis, digital health, goal setting theory, goal-setting components, mHealth, mobile apps, physical activity, review
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10083743
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