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Project Better Health is funded by the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute. This study targets the use of mobile technology to improve the nutrition of individuals with obesity in the state.

Introduction

Individuals living in rural areas may have limited access to care, not only due to a decreased presence in their area, but also the burden of traveling a long distance to reach quality care. A possible solution to this problem is the use of technology. To test this out, Project Better Health recruited health providers in West Virginia to implement a nutrition tracking phone application in their practice. 

Aims

  • assess the feasibility of using a mobile app (Good Measures) for the recording of food intake and the subsequent delivery of nutritional counseling based on prior meals on a given day.

Design

Project Better Health was a 12-week feasibility intervention taking place from December 2015 to June 2016. Providers were recruited through the West Virginia Practice Based Research Network (WVPBRN), and trained on Project Better Health as well as the nutrition app Good measures. Next, participants were recruited and trained. The individuals tracked their dietary habits for twelve weeks, and had access to dietitian consultations through the app. Assessments for participants and physicians were taken at baseline, 4, and 12 weeks to identify habits related to health behaviors and attitudes towards the Good Measures app.

The App: Good Measures
Good Measures is a smartphone and internet application that tracks nutrition and physical activity. Users enter information, and are provided a score that represents the healthfulness of their choices. It also makes future meal suggestions, and allows for real time interaction with a Registered Dietitian via face-to-face chats, messaging, or phone calls.

Outcome, Impact, & Future Work

Across the 12 week period, the retention rate was 78.13%, and those participants involved until the end lost an average of 5.5 pounds. It was also found that attitudes improved in relation to identifying nutrition as an important part of health. Overall, participants provided positive feedback about the Good Measures app, and stated that they'd recommend it to family and friends. 

This study took a creative approach to addressing the lack of access to nutritional services in under-represented populations. From here, a similar technique can be implemented in order to bridge the gap between patients and care on a larger scale. 

Acknowledgements

Project partners include the West Virginia Practice Based Research Network (WVPBRN), Dr. Mary Maurer at CAMC/WVU Charleston, the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute, the WVU Clinical Trials Research Unit (CTRU), and George Bennett and other staff from Good Measures™.

Project Better Health utilizes West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WVCTSI) funding to bring a personalized nutrition tracking application to seven primary care clinics throughout West Virginia.

Posters and Publications

None at this time.