Paediatrics Publications


The use of the behaviour change wheel in the development of ParticipACTION's physical activity app

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Preventive Medicine Reports



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The purpose of this study was to provide a detailed and systematic outline of how a theoretical behaviour change framework was applied in the development of ParticipACTION's app to support a more active Canada. The app development process was guided by the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) framework, a theoretically-based approach for intervention development, in collaboration with the commercial app industry. Specifically, a behavioural diagnosis was used to understand what needs to change for the targeted behaviour to occur. Current literature, along with a series of surveys, and market research informed app development. Additionally, a validated app behaviour change scale, was consulted throughout development to help ensure app features maximized behaviour change potential. The behavioural diagnosis revealed that the app needed to target individuals’ physical and psychological capabilities, physical and social opportunities, and reflective and automatic motivations in order to increase physical activity levels. To accomplish this, 6 of a possible 9 intervention functions and 2 of 7 policy categories were selected from the BCW to be included in the app. Goals and planning, feedback and monitoring, behaviour identification, action planning and knowledge shaping were selected as the main behaviour change techniques for the app. Collaboration with a mobile app development firm helped to embed the selected behaviour change techniques, policy categories, intervention functions, and sources of behaviour within the app. Using a systematic approach, this study used the BCW to ensure the health promotion app was theoretically informed. Future research will evaluate its effectiveness in increasing the physical activity of Canadians.

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