Using the Person-Based Approach to Develop a Digital Intervention Targeting Diet and Physical Activity in Pregnancy: Development Study.
JMIR formative research 2023 ; 7: e44082.
DOI : 10.2196/44082
PubMed ID : 37234026
In pregnancy, eating well, keeping active, and avoiding excessive weight gain are associated with better maternal and fetal health outcomes. Dietary and physical activity (PA) interventions can be effective in changing behaviors and managing weight gain. The comparatively lower cost and greater accessibility of digital interventions make them an attractive alternative to in-person interventions. Baby Buddy is a free pregnancy and parenting app from the charity Best Beginnings. Designed to support parents, improve health outcomes, and reduce inequalities, the app is actively used within the UK National Health Service. It offers an ideal platform for delivering and evaluating a new prenatal dietary and PA intervention.
The aim of this study was to create a theory-based intervention within Baby Buddy to empower, encourage, and support expectant parents to develop healthier dietary and PA habits for pregnancy and parenthood.
The intervention's development process was guided by the Behavior Change Wheel, with the person-based approach used to create and test its design. Three stages of qualitative research with pregnant and recently pregnant parents guided the intervention design. Study 1 (n=30), comprising 4 web-based focus groups and 12 telephone interviews, gauged response to the rudimentary concept and generated ideas for its development. Results were analyzed thematically. At this stage, the guiding principles for the intervention development were established, and regular team meetings ensured that the intervention design remained aligned with Best Beginnings' objectives, evidence-based approach, and feasibility criteria. Study 2 (n=29), comprising web-based individual and couple interviews, explored design ideas using wireframes and scripts and generated iterative feedback on the intervention content, branding, and tone. A table of changes analysis tracked design amendments. Study 3 (n=19) tested an app prototype using think-aloud interviews with current Baby Buddy users. A patient and public involvement and engagement activity (n=18) and other expert contributors (n=14) provided ad hoc input into the research process and design development.
Study 1 confirmed the appeal and relevance of the intervention concept and its novel approach of including partners. The identified themes underpinned the development of the intervention design. Iterative feedback from study 2, in conjunction with patient and public involvement and engagement and expert contributor input, helped refine the intervention design and ensure its relevance and appeal to a diverse target user group. Study 3 highlighted functionality, content, and design issues with the app prototype and identified ways of improving the user experience.
This study illustrates the value of combining a theoretical method for intervention development with the person-based approach to create a theory-based intervention that is also user-friendly, appealing, and engaging for its target audience. Further research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention in improving diet, PA, and weight management in pregnancy.