Feasibility of a low intensity, technology-based intervention for increasing physical activity in adults at risk for a diabetic foot ulcer: a mixed methods study

150 150 DaCosta Lab

Schneider K, Crews R, Subramanian V, Moxley E, Hwang S, DiLiberto FE, Aylward L, Bean J, Yalla S.

Among adults with diabetes, 19-34% will develop a diabetic foot ulcer (DFU), which increases amputation risk and health care costs, and worsens quality of life. Regular physical activity, when increased gradually, may help prevent DFUs. In this mixed-methods study, we examined the feasibility of a low-intensity, technology-based behavioral intervention to increase activity in adults at risk for DFUs.


Participants at risk for a DFU (n = 12; 66% female; mean age = 59.9 years) received four in-person exercise and behavioral counseling sessions over 2-3 weeks, supplemented with use of an activity monitor (to track steps) and text messages (to reinforce behavioral strategies) for an added 8 weeks. Pre- and postintervention assessments of accelerometer measured activity, daily mobility, and glycemic control (A1C) were completed. Treatment acceptability was assessed by questionnaire and via key informant interview.


The program appears feasible since all but one participant attended all four sessions, all used the activity monitor and all responded to text messages. Treatment acceptability (scale: 1 = very dissatisfied, 5 = extremely satisfied) was high; average item ratings were 4.79 (SD = 0.24). Participants increased their steps by an average of 881.89 steps/day (d = 0.66). A1C decreased on average by 0.33% (d = 0.23). Daily mobility did not change. Interview results suggest that participants perceived benefits from the intervention. Participant recommended improvements included providing more physical activity information, addressing pain, and intervention delivery in a podiatry clinic.


Individuals at risk for a DFU might benefit from a minimally intensive, technology-based intervention to increase their physical activity. Future research comparing the intervention to usual care is warranted.