Beliefs About Using Smartphones for Health Behavior Change: an Elicitation Study with Overweight and Obese Rural Women

Danielle Symons Downs, Joshua M. Smyth, Kristin E. Heron, Mark E. Feinberg, Marianne Hillemeier, Frank T. Materia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Despite increased interest in developing mobile technology-based interventions, little research has examined preferences and beliefs about using smartphones for psychosocial or health behavior change interventions, particularly among women with overweight/obesity residing in rural communities. The aims of this study were to examine the beliefs of pre- and inter-conceptional women about using smartphones and to examine the extent to which women’s preferences for using smartphones changed as a result of participating in study interviews. Forty women (M age = 28.2 years; M BMI = 31.4; 50% obese) participated in one-time 90-min interviews and completed questionnaires before and after the interviews. Descriptive statistics were used to examine the frequency of women’s preferences for using smartphones and applications. Interviews were downloaded and transcribed; principles of thematic analysis were used to code the interviews and identify themes. Women identified advantages of using smartphones for behavioral interventions, including being convenient, useful, and able to provide social support. Primary disadvantages were annoyances and needing technology support for phone problems. Participating in interviews also resulted in significant improvements in participant willingness to use smartphones in health behavior change interventions. The study findings highlight the importance of understanding beliefs about using smartphones before designing effective smartphone-based interventions, especially for use with pre- and inter-conceptional women with overweight/obesity who may have unique challenges with study adherence. These findings also suggest beliefs about smartphone utility can be improved over the course of a brief interview that taps into technology-related preferences. Identifying advantages/disadvantages of smartphone use can inform intervention design. Future research should explore how to capitalize on strategies that enable the benefits of technology (e.g., convenience, social support) while minimizing participant barriers (e.g., distractions) to promote behavior change and facilitate intervention compliance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-41
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Technology in Behavioral Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications

Cite this