About this Research Topic
Changing health behaviors for the better to prevent diseases, and improve health and well-being is one of the key aims in public health. To this end, physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB) have gained increased attention in recent years. PA refers to all bodily movements that increase energy expenditure above a threshold of 1.5 metabolic equivalents (METs), while SB is defined as all activities below this threshold (commonly sitting, reclining and lying down). Both are largely independently associated with various health outcomes. Overall, due to increased urbanization and modernization, PA is in decline as people spend increasing time on sedentary pursuits. These are global phenomena that are not only observed in high-income countries.
Great potential is seen in Generation 2 technologies such as applications, social media, and trackers to address PA and SB in different populations and across many geographical regions. Consumer-based technologies are increasingly wide-spread with close to 100% of the world population being covered by a mobile cellular network and 44% subscribing to mobile broadband services. Similarly, mobile tracking devices are gaining popularity as many people use such consumer-based devices to monitor and/or improve their health. As such, inexpensive and labor-saving interventions can be implemented, making such approaches attractive for population-wide initiatives. In addition, underpinning interventions with behavior change theory, implementing key behavior change techniques and features for effective intervention engagement holds great potential to make behavior change happen. Finally, with increasing sensing capabilities of devices, dynamic adaptations, allowing for precise intervention content delivery holds promise for behavioral initiation and also maintenance, the Holy Grail of behavioral health research. As a result, electronic- and mobile-health (e- and mHealth) research related to PA and SB grew significantly over the last few years with the scientific output increasing exponentially.
Despite such developments and great excitement, the key question of how effective such e- and mHealth approaches are in terms of changing these health behaviors is still a matter of debate. While interventions might be successful short-term when specific technologies are used in select populations, sustainable effects are more challenging to achieve. As such, for this Research Topic we encourage contributions that shed some light on the following areas of inquiry:
• How effective are e- and mHealth interventions in changing PA and SB in different adult populations and across different geographical regions? Here, we encourage submissions that report on interventions that either primarily employed e- and mHealth approaches to change PA and/or SB, or in which e- and mHealth approaches were a significant component of a multilevel intervention. We are specifically interested in reports on sustainable behavior change.
• What are the components that lead to effective and also ineffective behavioral e- & mHealth interventions targeting PA and/or SB?
• What are the current limitations of e- & mHealth interventions in terms of effectiveness, reach, use and engagement, and cost?
While we encourage submissions from all regions, we are especially looking for research conducted in non-high-income countries. Many of these countries experience a sharp rise in non-communicable diseases due to rapid development which impacts health behaviors, while at the same time, the information and communication infrastructure is expanding fast.
Specifications for contributions:
We will consider the following: interventions and Intervention Protocols, Reviews on interventions (Systematic Reviews with or without meta-analysis, Scoping Reviews), and papers describing large-scale implementations. In addition, Perspective papers can also be accepted if they are making an important contribution. We will only consider contributions that have a behavioral focus. Also, for Intervention Studies, we require authors to report their research following the CONSORT eHEALTH checklist, while we require review authors to have their protocol registered in the PROSPERO database.
Keywords: behavior change, behavior change intervention, eHealth, mHealth, physical activity, sedentary behavior, digital health
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.