The public defense of Anna Åkerberg’s doctoral thesis in Caring Sciences

Doctoral thesis and Licentiate seminars

Datum: 2018-03-20
Tid: 09.30
Plats: Room Pi, MDH Västerås

The public defense of Anna Åkerberg's doctoral thesis in Caring Sciences will take place at Mälardalen University, room Pi (Västerås Campus) at 09.30 on March 20, 2018.

Title: “An interactive health technology solution for encouraging physical activity – a first model based on a user perspective”.

Serial number: 254.

The faculty examiner is Associate Professor Maria Hagströmer, Karolinska Institutet, and the examining committee consists of Professor Emeritus Charli Eriksson, Örebro University, Associate Professor Anncristine Fjellman-Wiklund, Umeå University, Associate Professor Peter Anderberg, Blekinge Institute of Technology. 

Reserve; Senior Lecturer Radu Dobrin, Mälardalen University.



Globally, the level of physical inactivity is increasing. The overall aim of this thesis was to develop and test a first model of an interactive health technology solution (called App&Move), that should encourage physically inactive adults to be more physically active. App&Move was iteratively developed based on the user perspective, so called user centered design. First, available technology was assessed; the validity and reliability of one smartphone pedometer application and one commonly used traditional pedometer were investigated. It was found that none of the investigated pedometers could measure correctly in all investigated situations. However, measurements by a smartphone application was identified to have high potential when aiming at monitoring physical activity in everyday situations. As next step, a questionnaire was developed and distributed in central Sweden. 107 respondents answered the questionnaire, and these were divided and analyzed in the groups users and non-users of physical activity self-monitoring technology. The result showed that users and non-users of such technology mainly had similar opinions about desirable functions of the technology. To gain further knowledge on how to design App&Move, the target group physically inactive non-users participated in focus group interviews. Important results were that the technology should focus on encouragement rather than measurements, and that it preferably should be integrated into already existing technology, if possible already owned and worn by the person. A brainstorming workshop confirmed that the smartphone was a suitable platform, and a decision to develop a smartphone application was taken. A first draft of App&Move was developed, focusing on encouragement, and measuring everyday activity and exercise in minutes per day. App&Move was based on available physical activity recommendations and strategies for successful behavior change. App&Move was positively received in a user workshop and thereafter iteratively refined and developed, based on further user input. App&Move was usability tested on 23 physically inactive adults, using App&Move for four weeks, and answering two questionnaires. Three usability aspects; effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction, were assessed as; acceptable, high and medium, and a slight increase in activity minutes during the test period could be seen. To conclude, this thesis has investigated the user perspective of physical activity self-monitoring technology with the target group physically inactive adults. Based on these findings, a behavior change application for smartphone, App&Move, was presented. The usability test indicated promising results with respect to the usability, and indicated an ability to encourage the users to physical activity to some extent.

Keywords: physical activity, user perspective, user, technology, encourage, behavior change, application, smartphone