People are recommended to accumulate at least 30 minutes moderate intensity physical activity per day or to take 10.000 steps per day. Many Dutch people are not physically active enough, which lead to an increased risk at chronic diseases, such as Diabetes Mellitus Type 2. Type 2 Diabetes is originally a disease for the older people but nowadays it occurs among a lot of young people as well (World Health Organization, 2003). The main reason for this shift is the lack of exercise and consumption of unhealthy food (Putten, 2009). To stimulate an active and healthy lifestyle in people with Type 2 Diabetes, several organizations (business, healthcare, education) worked together in an innovative collaboration (Active Ageing Diabetes; Innovatie Werkplaats Diabetes).
As part of this collaboration a study was conducted which was aimed at optimizing a self-monitoring system for people with Type 2 Diabetes to stimulate physical exercise. Two research questions were formulated:
- What factors play a positive and / or negative role in encouraging physical activity in people with Type 2 Diabetes by means of a self-monitoring system?
- How do people with Type 2 Diabetes experience the Fitbit Zip and an e-health platform?
Nine patients with Type 2 Diabetes were interviewed using a semi-structures interview schedule, after two weeks of wearing the Fitbit Zip (digital pedometer) and using the e-health platform.
Many factors play an important positive role in encouraging physical activity in people with Type 2 Diabetes such as awareness of current risky behavior, the extent to which a person is self-regulated, the extent to which one believes in his own abilities (self-efficacy), the intention that someone has to change behavior and the reward this person receives.
The interviews revealed that respondents experienced the use of the Fitbit Zip and e-vitality as positive. It is user-friendly, intuitive and they both are products for everyone to use. It creates awareness and encourages more exercise.
Both products were well received by the respondents. It created awareness and encouraged patients to become more physically active. However, literature research and the interviews revealed a number of recommendations for the self-monitoring system. The effectiveness can be increased by providing more information on healthy and high-risk behavior. In the self-monitoring system people with Type 2 Diabetes need to create their own goals and challenges and they need to be able to control them. When goals are achieved, a reward should be given. Other sport activities and blood sugar rate should be registered on the e-health platform. Finally, a forum can be added so that users of the platform can find social support and share information.