Digitally Enhanced Recovery: Investigating the Use of Digital Self-Tracking for Monitoring Leisure Time Physical Activity of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Patients Undergoing Cardiac Rehabilitation
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Research has shown that physical activity is essential in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease (CVD). Smart wearables (e.g., smartwatches) are increasingly used to foster and monitor human behaviour, including physical activity. However, despite this increased usage, little evidence is available on the effects of smart wearables in behaviour change. The little research which is available typically focuses on the behaviour of healthy individuals rather than patients. In this study, we investigate the effects of using smart wearables by patients undergoing cardiac rehabilitation. A field experiment involving 29 patients was designed and participants were either assigned to the study group (N = 13 patients who finished the study and used a self-tracking device) or the control group (N = 16 patients who finished the study and did not use a device). For both groups data about physiological performance during cardiac stress test was collected at the beginning (baseline), in the middle (in week 6, at the end of the rehabilitation in the organized rehabilitation setting), and at the end of the study (after 12 weeks, at the end of the rehabilitation, including the organized rehabilitation plus another 6 weeks of self-organized rehabilitation). Comparing the physiological performance of both groups, the data showed significant differences. The participants in the study group not only maintained the same performance level as during the midterm examination in week 6, they improved performance even further during the six weeks that followed. The results presented in this paper provide evidence for positive effects of digital self-tracking by patients undergoing cardiac rehabilitation on performance of the cardiovascular system. In this way, our study provides novel insight about the effects of the use of smart wearables by CVD patients.