A knowledge translation approach to enhance mHealth interventions for persons with disabilities


mHealth apps offer one way for persons with a disability to perform self-management health tasks and to achieve and maintain increased independence with their health behaviours (Zhou, 2020). However, apps are not generally designed to meet the accessibility and inclusion needs of diverse user groups (Olsen, 2019). Key knowledge needed to effectively promote physical activity for persons with disabilities is beginning to accumulate, with areas of knowledge including a) select population specific guidelines; (b) barriers and facilitators to participation; (c) applicability of theories of motivation; (d) promising behaviour change techniques; and (e) preferred messaging and message delivery approaches. However, it remains unclear how to effectively integrate key disability-specific knowledge into an mHealth format. This study aims to describe an integrated knowledge translation approach that seeks to produce an mHealth intervention inclusive of persons with disabilities. Following the phases of the knowledge to action cycle, we (1) identified the need for inclusive physical activity content; (2) performed two literature reviews to identify current mHealth gaps and best practices; (3) translated physical activity evidence into the ParticipACTION app; (4) identified barriers and facilitators to ParticipACTION app use; and (5) evaluated the overall outcomes of the project. These steps resulted in the creation of 75 pieces of inclusive content. We analyzed reach and app use in the final phase of the cycle. Reach is low with only 0.99% of new app users having a disability. App users are not representative of the disability population with overrepresentation of women and middle-aged people.