A culturally relevant smartphone-delivered physical activity intervention for African American women: Development and initial usability tests of smart walk

Rodney P. Joseph, Colleen Keller, Sonia Vega-López, Marc A. Adams, Rebekah English, Kevin Hollingshead, Steven P. Hooker, Michael Todd, Glenn A. Gaesser, Barbara E. Ainsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Smart Walk is a culturally relevant, social cognitive theory-based, smartphone-delivered intervention designed to increase physical activity (PA) and reduce cardiometabolic disease risk among African American (AA) women. Objective: This study aimed to describe the development and initial usability testing results of Smart Walk. Methods: Smart Walk was developed in 5 phases. Phases 1 to 3 focused on initial intervention development, phase 4 involved usability testing, and phase 5 included intervention refinement based on usability testing results. In phase 1, a series of 9 focus groups with 25 AA women (mean age 38.5 years, SD 7.8; mean BMI 39.4 kg/m2, SD 7.3) was used to identify cultural factors associated with PA and ascertain how constructs of social cognitive theory can be leveraged in the design of a PA intervention. Phase 2 included the analysis of phase 1 qualitative data and development of the structured PA intervention. Phase 3 focused on the technical development of the smartphone app used to deliver the intervention. Phase 4 consisted of a 1-month usability trial of Smart Walk (n=12 women; mean age 35.0 years, SD 8.5; mean BMI 40 kg/m2, SD 5.0). Phase 5 included refinement of the intervention based on the usability trial results. Results: The 5-phase process resulted in the development of the Smart Walk smartphone-delivered PA intervention. This PA intervention was designed to target social cognitive theory constructs of behavioral capability, outcome expectations, social support, self-efficacy, and self-regulation and address deep structure sociocultural characteristics of collectivism, racial pride, and body appearance preferences of AA women. Key features of the smartphone app included (1) personal profile pages, (2) multimedia PA promotion modules (ie, electronic text and videos), (3) discussion boards, and (4) a PA self-monitoring tool. Participants also received 3 PA promotion text messages each week. Conclusions: The development process of Smart Walk was designed to maximize the usability, cultural relevance, and impact of the smartphone-delivered PA intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere15346
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020



  • African-American
  • EHealth
  • Exercise
  • Heart diseases
  • MHealth
  • Minority health
  • Primary prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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