Gamified Health Intervention to Improve Physical Activity
Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, yet few interventions have targeted this population to decrease long-term risk. This 12-week randomized clinical trial enrolled postpartum individuals who delivered at the University of Pennsylvania and had a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy between October 2019 and June 2020. Analysis was intention to treat.

All participants received a wearable activity tracker, established a baseline step count, selected a step goal greater than baseline, and were randomly assigned to control or intervention. Participants in the control arm received daily feedback on goal attainment. Participants in the intervention arm were placed on virtual teams and enrolled in a game with points and levels for daily step goal achievement and informed by principles of behavioral economics.

A total of 127 participants were randomized (64 in the control group and 63 in the intervention group) and were enrolled a mean of 7.9 weeks post partum. Participants had a mean (SD) age of 32.3 (5.6) years, 70 (55.1%) were Black, and 52 (41.9%) had Medicaid insurance. The mean (SD) baseline step count was similar in the control and intervention arms (6042 [2270] vs 6175 [1920] steps, respectively). After adjustment for baseline steps and calendar month, participants in the intervention arm had a significantly greater increase in mean daily step steps from baseline compared with the control arm (647 steps; 95% CI, 169-1124 steps; P=.009). Compared with the control arm, participants in the intervention arm achieved their steps goals on a greater proportion of participant-days during the intervention period (0.47 vs 0.38; adjusted difference 0.11; 95% CI, 0.04-0.19; P=.003). In this study, a digital health intervention using remote monitoring, gamification, and social incentives among postpartum individuals at elevated cardiovascular risk significantly increased physical activity throughout 12 weeks.