The empowering role of smartphones in behaviour change interventions: The Gray Matters Study

Prof Chris Nugent, Prof Sally McClean and Dr Ian Cleland (Ulster)

The use of mobile apps are being claimed to have the ability to support a range of health and social care problems. Their use is, however, surrounded by widespread scepticism due to the lack of clinical evidence of their effectiveness which subsequently hinders their widespread use. This seminar will provide clinical evidence on the positive effects of mobile apps as a means of delivering behaviour change and reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The Gray Matters Study, a 6-month pilot study with 104 participants using the Gray Matters app, aimed to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, whilst in the short-term promoting vascular health. The Gray Matters app was designed to facilitate the delivery of intervention material, recording of user behaviours and presentation of performance feedback. Results indicated that recording behaviours and achievement of daily targets were correlated to favourable improvements in biological and clinical markers, with significance in reducing BMI and correlation with cholesterol levels. Further analysis indicated that 69.2% of those who achieved more than 60% of their daily targets reduced their BMI during the study. In summary, the Gray Matters app excelled as a method to deliver intervention material, and simultaneously encourage and monitor behaviour change.

Date of seminar: 8 March 2017.

Policy Briefing