Investigating the effectiveness of providing phone messages to older adults in urban Bangladesh to encourage them to engage in physical activity

Investigating the effectiveness of providing phone messages to older adults in urban Bangladesh to encourage them to engage in physical activity. Hannah Jennings, Edwart Fottrell (University College London); Kishwar Azad, A. K. Azad Khan, Kohenour Akter, Sanjit Kumar Shaha (Diabetic Association of Bangladesh)

Chronic diseases have evolved into a critical issue in Bangladesh. Even relatively small increases in physical activity can reduce the risk of chronic disease such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases and atheroscleritic diseases, as well as improve overall wellbeing. However, urban older adults in Bangladesh typically engage in very little physical activity, with little awareness, opportunity or motivation to be physically active. Over 90% of households in urban areas own a mobile phone, presenting an opportunity to reach people through mHealth interventions.

We propose conducting formative research and a pilot study to adapt and establish the feasibility of an mHealth intervention to promote physical activity among older adults in urban Bangladesh. This builds on our experiences of developing, implementing and evaluating an mHealth intervention (voice messages, dramas and songs) to promote physical activity in rural areas (Trials2016: 17:600). Preliminary results from our on-going project indicate that the messages are well received and improve levels of physical activity among rural adults.

Urban Bangladesh differs markedly from rural areas. Through interviews and focus group discussions we will identify barriers and enablers to physical activity in Faridpur town and will identify ways in which our intervention needs to be adapted to this urban context and the needs of older adults (55+) in particular. The process of message development, delivery and receipt will be piloted among a sample of older adults. Findings from this study will feed into the application for a Trial Development Grant under the 2018 MRC/Wellcome Joint Global Health Trials scheme.