BMC Public Health (Aug 2022)

Experiences of activity monitoring and perceptions of digital support among working individuals with hip and knee osteoarthritis – a focus group study

  • Elin Östlind,
  • Eva Ekvall Hansson,
  • Frida Eek,
  • Kjerstin Stigmar

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 1
pp. 1 – 11


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Abstract Background Mobile health (mHealth), wearable activity trackers (WATs) and other digital solutions could support physical activity (PA) in individuals with hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA), but little is described regarding experiences and perceptions of digital support and the use of WAT to self-monitor PA. Thus, the aim of this study was to explore the experiences of using a WAT to monitor PA and the general perceptions of mHealth and digital support in OA care among individuals of working age with hip and knee OA. Methods We conducted a focus group study where individuals with hip and knee OA (n = 18) were recruited from the intervention group in a cluster-randomized controlled trial (C-RCT). The intervention in the C-RCT comprised of 12-weeks use of a WAT with a mobile application to monitor PA in addition to participating in a supported OA self-management program. In this study, three focus group discussions were conducted. The discussions were transcribed and qualitative content analysis with an inductive approach was applied. Results The analysis resulted in two main categories: A WAT may aid in optimization of PA, but is not a panacea with subcategories WATs facilitate PA; Increased awareness of one’s limitations and WATs are not always encouraging, and the second main category was Digital support is an appreciated part of OA care with subcategories Individualized, early and continuous support; PT is essential but needs to be modernized and Easy, comprehensive, and reliable digital support. Conclusion WATs may facilitate PA but also aid individuals with OA to find the optimal level of activity to avoid increased pain. Digital support in OA care was appreciated, particularly as a part of traditional care with physical visits. The participants expressed that the digital support should be easy, comprehensive, early, and continuous.