Hong examines development of mobile-enabled app to aid older cancer survivors, promote physical activity

April 22, 2013
Yan Hong, Ph.D.

Yan Hong, Ph.D.

Yan Hong, Ph.D., associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health, and her colleagues recently examined the development of a mobile-enabled web application to aid older cancer survivors and promote physical activity.

“Designing iCanFit: A Mobile-Enabled Web Application to Promote Physical Activity for Older Cancer Survivors” is in the January-June issue of Journal of Medical Internet Research Research Protocols.

“Most cancer survivors are 60 years of age or older, and the population of older cancer survivors is increasing,” Dr. Hong said. “However, the majority of cancer survivors are not participating in the recommended levels of physical activity.”

Physical activity has shown to improve immune function, mood and fatigue, as well as quality of life for cancer survivors. In addition to the everyday benefits, physical activity can lower the risk of cancer recurrence, according to Dr. Hong.

The development of strategies and resources for promoting physical activity in older cancer survivors is something researchers have worked hard to accomplish. Mobile technology will play an integral part in that process, as the use of mobile devices and tools has continued to rise among people of all ages, including those over 60. Research among cancer survivors has shown “the Internet has become the second most-used resource for finding health-related information,” Dr. Hong said.

Although older individuals are beginning to use the Internet and newer technology, the majority of the web programs and applications created are still geared toward younger users. This study assists developers in the design of a new app, which would not only promote physical activity but also is geared toward older cancer survivors’ needs as a user.

Additional study authors included Deborah Vollmer Dahlke, M.P.A.; Marcia Ory, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Angela Hochhalter, Ph.D.; Jana Reynolds, M.D.; Ninfa Pena Purcell, Ph.D.; Divya Talwar, M.P.H.; and Nola Eugene, M.P.H., B.S.W.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell

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