The SMART Study, a Mobile Health and Citizen Science Methodological Platform for Active Living Surveillance, Integrated Knowledge Translation, and Policy Interventions: Longitudinal Study.
BACKGROUND: Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, costing approximately US $67.5 billion per year to health care systems. To curb the physical inactivity pandemic, it is time to move beyond traditional approaches and engage citizens by repurposing sedentary behavior (SB)-enabling ubiquitous tools (eg, smartphones).
OBJECTIVE: The primary objective of the Saskatchewan, let's move and map our activity (SMART) Study was to develop a mobile and citizen science methodological platform for active living surveillance, knowledge translation, and policy interventions. This methodology paper enumerates the SMART Study platform's conceptualization, design, implementation, data collection procedures, analytical strategies, and potential for informing policy interventions.
METHODS: This longitudinal investigation was designed to engage participants (ie, citizen scientists) in Regina and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, in four different seasons across 3 years. In spring 2017, pilot data collection was conducted, where 317 adult citizen scientists (≥18 years) were recruited in person and online. Citizen scientists used a custom-built smartphone app, Ethica (Ethica Data Services Inc), for 8 consecutive days to provide a complex series of objective and subjective data. Citizen scientists answered a succession of validated surveys that were assigned different smartphone triggering mechanisms (eg, user-triggered and schedule-triggered). The validated surveys captured physical activity (PA), SB, motivation, perception of outdoor and indoor environment, and eudaimonic well-being. Ecological momentary assessments were employed on each day to capture not only PA but also physical and social contexts along with barriers and facilitators of PA, as relayed by citizen scientists using geo-coded pictures and audio files. To obtain a comprehensive objective picture of participant location, motion, and compliance, 6 types of sensor-based (eg, global positioning system and accelerometer) data were surveilled for 8 days. Initial descriptive analyses were conducted using geo-coded photographs and audio files.
RESULTS: Pictures and audio files (ie, community voices) showed that the barriers and facilitators of active living included intrinsic or extrinsic motivations, social contexts, and outdoor or indoor environment, with pets and favorable urban design featuring as the predominant facilitators, and work-related screen time proving to be the primary barrier.
CONCLUSIONS: The preliminary pilot results show the flexibility of the SMART Study surveillance platform in identifying and addressing limitations based on empirical evidence. The results also show the successful implementation of a platform that engages participants to catalyze policy interventions. Although SMART Study is currently geared toward surveillance, using the same platform, active living interventions could be remotely implemented. SMART Study is the first mobile, citizen science surveillance platform utilizing a rigorous, longitudinal, and mixed-methods investigation to temporally capture behavioral data for knowledge translation and policy interventions.