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Digital Intervention with Lifestyle Coach Support to Target Dietary and Physical Activity Behaviors of Adults with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Systematic Development Process of VITALISE Using Intervention Mapping

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kate HallsworthORCiD, Professor Stuart McPhersonORCiD, Professor Quentin AnsteeORCiD, Laura HaighORCiD, Dr Leah Avery



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020 Clinical and Experimental Obstetrics and Gynecology. All rights reserved.Background: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is linked to excessive calorie consumption, physical inactivity, and being overweight. Patients with NAFLD can halt or decelerate progression and potentially reverse their condition by changing their lifestyle behavior. International guidelines recommend the use of lifestyle interventions; however, there remains a discordance between published guidelines and clinical practice. This is primarily due to a lack of NAFLD-specific interventions to support weight loss and improve liver function. Objective: This study aims to use intervention mapping to systematically develop a digital intervention to support patients with NAFLD to initiate and maintain changes in their dietary and physical activity behavior to promote weight loss. Methods: Intervention mapping consisted of 6 steps: Step 1 involved a needs assessment with primary and secondary health care professionals (HCPs) and patients with NAFLD; step 2 involved identification of the social cognitive determinants of change and behavioral outcomes of the intervention; step 3 involved linking social cognitive determinants of behavioral outcomes with behavior change techniques to effectively target dietary and physical activity behavior; step 4 involved the development of a prototype digital intervention that integrated the strategies from step 3, and the information content was identified as important for improving knowledge and skills from steps 1 and 2; step 5 involved the development of an implementation plan with a digital provider of lifestyle behavior change programs to patients with NAFLD using their delivery platform and lifestyle coaches; and step 6 involved piloting the digital intervention with patients to obtain data on access, usability, and content. Results: A digital intervention was developed, consisting of 8 modules; self-regulatory tools; and provision of telephone support by trained lifestyle coaches to help facilitate behavioral intention, enactment, and maintenance. A commercial provider of digital lifestyle behavior change programs enrolled 16 patients with NAFLD to the prototype intervention for 12 consecutive weeks. A total of 11 of the 16 participants successfully accessed the intervention and continued to engage with the content following initial log-in (on average 4 times over the piloting period). The most frequently accessed modules were welcome to the program, understanding NAFLD, and food and NAFLD. Goal setting and self-monitoring tools were accessed on 22 occasions (4 times per tool on average). A total of 3 out of 11 participants requested access to a lifestyle coach. Conclusions: Intervention mapping provided a systematic methodological framework to guide a theory- A nd evidence-informed co-design intervention development process for patients and HCPs. The digital intervention with remote support by a lifestyle coach was acceptable to patients with NAFLD and feasible to deliver. Issues with initial access, optimization of information content, and promoting the value of remote lifestyle coach support require further development ahead of future research to establish intervention effectiveness.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hallsworth K, McPherson S, Anstee QM, Flynn D, Haigh L, Avery L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Medical Internet Research

Year: 2021

Volume: 23

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 15/01/2021

Acceptance date: 28/10/2020

Date deposited: 10/02/2021

ISSN (electronic): 1438-8871

Publisher: JMIR Publications Inc.


DOI: 10.2196/20491

PubMed id: 33448929


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