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Digital technology to support lifestyle and health behaviour changes in surgical patients: systematic review

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Anna Robinson-BarellaORCiD, Bob Slight, Professor Andy HusbandORCiD, Professor Sarah Slight



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


Abstract. Background: Digital technologies (such as smartphone applications, activity trackers, and e-learning platforms) have supported patients with long-term conditions to change their lifestyle health behaviours. The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of digital technologies in supporting patients undergoing elective surgery to change their health behaviours. Methods: A systematic review was conducted of articles reporting a digital intervention supporting behaviour change in adult patients who underwent elective bariatric, oncological or orthopaedic surgery. MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Scopus were searched from inception to March 2019 for quantitative intervention studies with a specific focus on physical activity, dietary intake, and weight loss in patients before and after surgery (PROSPERO: CRD42019127972). The Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal checklist was used to assess study quality.nResults: Of 3021 citations screened, 17 studies were included comprising 4923 surgical patients; these included experimental (preā€“post design, feasibility studies, and RCTs) and observational studies. Three factors were identified as effective for supporting health behaviour change in elective surgical populations: digital technology delivery, implementation, and theoretical underpinning. Six of eight studies that referred to behaviour change theories observed significant improvements in health behaviour relating to reduced weight regain, and improved lifestyle choices for physical activity and diet. Meta-analysis was not possible because of heterogeneous outcome measures. Conclusion: Digital technologies may effectively support behavioural change in patients undergoing elective surgery.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robinson A, Slight RD, Husband AK, Slight S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BJS Open

Year: 2021

Volume: 5

Issue: 2

Print publication date: 01/03/2021

Online publication date: 28/12/2020

Acceptance date: 23/08/2020

Date deposited: 24/03/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2474-9842

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/bjsopen/zraa009


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