Preventing Complications with Improved Physical Activity:

Can Self-Monitoring Technologies Help?precision_logo

*Please note: This project is no longer recruiting participants.*   A sub study of PRECISION: Preventing Complications from Inflammatory Skin, Joint and Bowel Conditions Project Lead: Linda Li, PT, PhD. Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia For a list team members involved in this study click here. Study Start Date: 2015 Study End Date: 2019


Why do this research?

To prevent some of the complications that may occur from inflammatory diseases, Health Canada recommends at least two and a half hours per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (e.g., brisk walking, fast swimming). We know that people with inflammatory arthritis can reduce their pain and improve their ability to move around by being physically active, but many people with arthritis are not physically active and do not have appropriate access to health professionals to learn how to stay active safely. Physical activity trackers could play a part in helping patients with chronic illnesses improve their physical activity. We have developed a new app (called, MaC app) that can be linked to a Fitbit, which is a popular physical activity tracker worn on the body. Together, our MaC app and Fitbit will automatically track a patient’s physical activity, provide them with real-time feedback and deliver messages of encouragement to achieve their activity goals. In this sub-project of the PRECISION study, we will:

  1. Develop a Fitbit compatible application for health professionals to provide physical activity recommendations.
  2. Assess usability of the new app.
  3. Evaluate the effect of a physical activity counselling intervention, involving the use of the new app, in patients with RA and SLE.

By learning more about how digital technologies could support people with arthritis in being more physically active, our research could significantly reduce and prevent complications such as heart attacks, stroke, blood clots in the legs and lungs, severe infections, hip fractures, selected cancers, diabetes, and chronic lung disease associated with inflammatory skin, joint and bowel diseases.


What will be done?

We are currently testing how user-friendly our new app is with the help of physiotherapists and rheumatoid arthritis and lupus patients. The feedback collected will be used to refine the app. Next, we will recruit 50 patients with inflammatory arthritis or lupus to use the newly refined MaC/Fitbit app for 3 months. Each month, participants will share and discuss the information collected by the Mac/Fitbit app with a physiotherapist over the phone. Participants will return the Fitbit at the end of Month 3. To detect any changes in physical activity, we will ask participants to wear an armband accelerometer for 7 days at baseline, Month 3, and Month 6 in order to track their time spent in moderate/vigorous physical activity. They will also be invited to take part in an interview to share their views and experiences of using the Fitbit/MaC app to support their physical activity.


Who is involved?

Physiotherapists and individuals who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.


Who is funding this research?

  • Canadian Institute for Health Research
  • Crohn’s and Colitis Canada



Gupta A, Tong X, Shaw C, Li LC, Feehan L. FitViz: A personal informatics tool for self-management of rheumatoid arthritis. Conference Proceeding. In: Stephanidis C. (eds) HCI International 2017 – Posters’ Extended Abstracts. HCI 2017. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol 714. Springer, Cham. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-58753-0_35. To access publication, click here.