The impact of multidimensional physical activity feedback on healthcare practitioners and patients

Max J. Western, Dylan Thompson, Oliver J. Peacock, Afroditi Stathi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Promotion of physical activity in primary care has had limited success. Wearable technology presents an opportunity to support healthcare practitioners (HCPs) in providing personalised feedback to their patients.

Aim: To explore the differing thoughts and feelings of both HCPs and at-risk patients provided with personalised multidimensional physical activity feedback.

Design & setting: Qualitative study with HCPs (n = 15) and patients at risk of cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes (n = 29), recruited from primary care.

Method: HCPs and patients wore a physical activity monitor for 7 days and were subsequently shown their personalised multidimensional feedback, including sedentary time, calorie burn, short (1-minute) or long (> 10-minute) bouts of moderate-to-vigorous activity during semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were analysed thematically with comparisons made between individuals of high (n = 21) and low (n = 23) physical activity levels as to their cognitive-affective responses to their data.

Results: Personalised feedback elicited positive emotional responses for highly active participants and negative emotional responses for those with low activity. However, individuals with low activity demonstrated largely positive coping mechanisms. Some low active participants were in denial over feedback, but the majority valued it as an opportunity to think of ways to improve physical activity (cognitive reappraisal) and started forming action plans (problem-focused coping). Around half of all participants also sought to validate their feedback against peers.

Conclusion: Personalised, visual feedback elicits immediate emotional and coping responses in participants of high and low physical activity levels. Further studies should explore whether multidimensional feedback could help practitioners explore diverse ways for lifestyle change with patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbjgpopen18X101628
Number of pages11
JournalBJGP Open
Issue number1
Early online date6 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Emotions
  • Feedback
  • Fitness trackers
  • Physical activity
  • Primary health care
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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