Adding use of a personal digital assistant (PDA) to an intensive weight-loss program results in significantly greater weight loss, as well as enabling patients to take charge of their own weight management, report US researchers.
Their study randomly assigned patients in a weight-loss program to either use a PDA for 6 months or not, which entailed recording their food intake, and receiving goals set by para-professional coaches who telephoned patients to give individualized guidance.
Participants assigned to the PDA group lost significantly more weight over a 6-month period, show the findings.
"This study highlights the promise of a mobile technology system as a scalable, cost-effective means to augment the effectiveness of physician-directed weight loss treatment," say Bonnie Spring (Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois) and co-authors in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
They suggest that handheld tools such as the one in their study embrace patient-centered care by helping patients manage their own behavior changes as well as reducing cost and patient burden in "strained" care systems.
In all, 70 participants were randomly assigned to the PDA intervention (n=35) or to their standard weight-loss program alone (controls), including 59 men with a mean weight of 114.3 kg at baseline, and 11 women with a mean baseline weight of 96.3 kg.
Overall, participants in the PDA group had lost a mean 3.9 kg more bodyweight (equal to 3.1% more) than controls by the 6-month primary study endpoint, report Spring et al.
Indeed, weight loss was greater in the PDA group than among controls at all time points in the year-long study, they add, at 4.5 kg versus 1.0 kg at 3 months, 3.9 kg versus 0.9 kg at 9 months, and 2.9 kg versus -0.02 kg at 12 months.
Furthermore, the PDA group was a significant 6.5 times more likely than controls to achieve a 5% or greater weight loss by the study end.
In an accompanying editorial, Goutham Rao (University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Illinois) and Katherine Kirley (NorthShore University Health System, Evanston, Illinois) remark that technologies such as the PDA allow patients to take charge of their own weight management, which is "an essential component of the increasingly important patient-centered medical home model of care."
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