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Exclusively Digital Health Interventions Targeting Diet, Physical Activity, and Weight Gain in Pregnant Women: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Rhodes, A; Smith, AD; Chadwick, P; Croker, H; Llewellyn, CH; (2020) Exclusively Digital Health Interventions Targeting Diet, Physical Activity, and Weight Gain in Pregnant Women: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. JMIR mHealth and uHealth , 8 (7) , Article e18255. 10.2196/18255. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Interventions to promote a healthy diet, physical activity, and weight management during pregnancy are increasingly embracing digital technologies. Although some interventions have combined digital with interpersonal (face-to-face or telephone) delivery, others have relied exclusively on digital delivery. Exclusively digital interventions have the advantages of greater cost-effectiveness and broader reach and as such can be a valuable resource for health care providers. Objective: This systematic review aims to focus on exclusively digital interventions to determine their effectiveness, identify behavior change techniques (BCTs), and investigate user engagement. Methods: A total of 6 databases (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online [MEDLINE], Excerpta Medica dataBASE [EMBASE], PsycINFO, Cumulated Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature [CINAHL] Plus, Web of Science, and ProQuest) were searched for randomized controlled trials or pilot control trials of exclusively digital interventions to encourage healthy eating, physical activity, or appropriate weight gain during pregnancy. The outcome measures were gestational weight gain (GWG) and changes in physical activity and dietary behaviors. Study quality was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool 2.0. Where possible, pooled effect sizes were calculated using a random effects meta-analysis. Results: In total, 11 studies met the inclusion criteria. The risk of bias was mostly high (n=5) or moderate (n=3). Of the 11 studies, 6 reported on GWG as the primary outcome, 4 of which also measured changes in physical activity and dietary behaviors, and 5 studies focused either on dietary behaviors only (n=2) or physical activity only (n=3). The meta-analyses showed no significant benefit of interventions on total GWG for either intention-to-treat data (−0.28 kg; 95% CI −1.43 to 0.87) or per-protocol data (−0.65 kg; 95% CI −1.98 to 0.67). Substantial heterogeneity in outcome measures of change in dietary behaviors and physical activity precluded further meta-analyses. BCT coding identified 7 BCTs that were common to all effective interventions. Effective interventions averaged over twice as many BCTs from the goals and planning, and feedback and monitoring domains as ineffective interventions. Data from the 6 studies reporting on user engagement indicated a positive association between high engagement with key BCTs and greater intervention effectiveness. Interventions using proactive messaging and feedback appeared to have higher levels of engagement. Conclusions: In contrast to interpersonal interventions, there is little evidence of the effectiveness of exclusively digital interventions to encourage a healthy diet, physical activity, or weight management during pregnancy. In this review, effective interventions used proactive messaging, such as reminders to engage in BCTs, feedback on progress, or tips, suggesting that interactivity may drive engagement and lead to greater effectiveness. Given the benefits of cost and reach of digital interventions, further research is needed to understand how to use advancing technologies to enhance user engagement and improve effectiveness.

Type: Article
Title: Exclusively Digital Health Interventions Targeting Diet, Physical Activity, and Weight Gain in Pregnant Women: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.2196/18255
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.2196/18255
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth, is properly cited.
Keywords: gestational weight gain; digital interventions; behavior change techniques; user engagement; smartphone; mobile phone
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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 Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Population, Policy and Practice Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10105938
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