Let’s build an app for that Challenges and lessons learned in exercise oncology

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Manuel Ester
Julianna Dreger
Utkarsh Subnis
Shaneel Pathak
S.Nicole Culos-Reed


The promotion of physical activity behavior change among adults with cancer is a research priority. Within this field, increasing attention is being devoted to the use of health technology, which includes mobile phones and applications, or apps, to support and deliver physical activity behavior change interventions. While building a mobile app is a popular proposal among exercise oncology researchers, little practical information exists on how this process should be done or what considerations researchers should take in collaboration with participants and industry. The present article provides an overview of recent experiences with app development in exercise oncology and outlines several recommendations for future research. Methods and Results: After forming an interdisciplinary team of researchers, industry partners, and exercise oncology program participants, an iterative, user-centered app improvement process was followed to collect feedback and make meaningful changes to an existing mobile health app for its use in exercise oncology. Participant feedback was summarized and addressed collaboratively via open discussion and detailed action plans. Changes made include enhanced introductory materials for the app and improvements to usability and personalization. Some requests remain to be addressed in future updates. Two challenges identified during the app improvement process were balancing the unique needs and priorities of all parties, as well as addressing the variable feedback from a variable population of adults with cancer. Conclusions and significance: A multidisciplinary participant-oriented app improvement process led to meaningful updates to the mobile application of interest, preparing researchers to carry out an evaluation of its effectiveness within exercise oncology. Furthermore, based on lessons learned, the research team present key recommendations to consider in future mobile app research before, during, and after the development process.


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Ester, M., Dreger, J., Subnis, U., Pathak, S., & Culos-Reed, S. (2021). Let’s build an app for that: Challenges and lessons learned in exercise oncology. Communications in Kinesiology, 1(2). https://doi.org/10.51224/cik.v1i2.37
Physical Activity, Health, and Disease


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