Pilot study of a smartphone-based intervention to promote cancer prevention behaviours.

Publication Date: 
Nov 14, 2017

BACKGROUND: Estimates predict that more than half of all cancers are due to inadequate lifestyle choices. Smartphones can be successfully used to support the behaviour change needed to prevent cancer.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to field-test Happy, a smartphone app designed to promote cancer prevention behaviours, based on tailored-messages.

METHODS: Thirty-two participants downloaded and used the app for 28 consecutive days (4 weeks). At the end of this period, they all answered an online questionnaire and ten of them were interviewed. Usability, feasibility, message receptivity, and perceived impact of the app were assessed.

RESULTS: Compliance with cancer prevention guidelines was lower than expected. Happy was considered simple, intuitive and easy to use. Messages sent by the app were considered easy to understand, providing good advice and meaningful information that catch reader's attention. Participants also considered that Happy might be an effective way to promote cancer prevention. Collected data showed an increased frequency in several cancer prevention related behaviours and an increase in the overall putative cancer prevention level.

CONCLUSIONS: This study showed the viability of designing and implementing smartphone-based interventions to promote cancer prevention behaviours. The results suggest that Happy is usable and might help users change their behaviour towards healthier choices and thus reduce their personal cancer risk.