Just-in-time adaptive interventions and chronic disease management

Just-in-time adaptive intervention (JITAI) is an emerging intervention method that can promote healthy behaviors and prevent unfavorable health-related behaviors. JITAIs use real-time data to deliver the right amount of support to individuals at the right time via mobile applications. The method uses mobile computers, sensors, and software analytics to detect behaviors and create personalized behavior interventions.

In a study, researchers from the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University examined the behavioral response to JITAI for reducing sedentary behavior (SB) in overweight and obese individuals. The study consisted of thirty participants with a mean body mass index of 36.2 kg/m2, and involved participants receiving mobile phone prompts to take walking breaks after 30, 60, or 120 SB minutes. The duration of the walking breaks differed for each of the three conditions. The breaks lasted three, six, and twelve minutes, respectively.

After an average of 6.90 days, there were significant reductions in time spent in SB in each of the three conditions. Time spent in light intensity and moderate to vigorous intensity also improved. The best adherence to prompts, greatest number of walking breaks, and greatest amount of time spent in walking breaks per day occured in the three and six minute conditions. The app was effective in promoting breaks in SB at the most clinically relevant times. JITAI and other behavioral health interventions have potential to change the way diseases and treated and prevented.