142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Can wearable physical activity trackers or “wearables” be useful in outreach to low-income Latinos?

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Iana M. Simeonov , UCSF mLabs, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Kristina M. Hamm, MPH , California Poison Control System, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Consumer products that track and analyze physical activity, or lack thereof, show potential to improve health behavior. However, their high price, complex data visualizations, and hardware requirements present barriers to low-income Latinos who are disproportionately affected by obesity.

California Latinos have among the highest rates of obesity. This population could significantly benefit from “wearables” that help illustrate and internalize the connection between physical activity and improved health.

We tested the most popular activity tracker, the Fitbit, with Spanish-dominant community health workers in Fresno County, where half the population is Latino and one-third lives in poverty. Four promotoras were given Fitbit One’s in the box and asked to activate the device over 30-days. We interviewed them about their experience, if they used the web or mobile app and how useful they thought such a device could be to their clients.

Promotoras preferred seeing data on the device itself. The Fitbit One shows steps, calculates distance and calories, and represents progress as a growing flower. All attempted to open online accounts, but abandoned the web for the mobile app. All said the device motivated them to increase their activity and believed a wearable with literacy-appropriate data visualization would benefit and be adopted by their clients, but only if they received thorough training and ongoing support.

“Wearables”, such as the Fitbit, Nike Fuelband and Jawbone Up, have potential to be catalysts for behavior change among at-risk, low-income Latinos, but only if data visualizations are better matched to health literacy levels and culturally relevant.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Define the term “wearables” Discuss key factors related to using wearable activity trackers for low-income Latino populations Identify how such devices can fit into an overall health outreach strategy

Keyword(s): Technology, Latinos

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Over 10 years of experience in research, program and development for underserved populations, multi-year APHA, NIH and CDC conference presenter. Focus on Hispanic education marketing, creator of numerous bilingual health education tools including print, web, video, text-messaging campaigns, online games, apps and digital and mobile tools for public health programs and projects nationwide.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.