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Background: Physical activity (PA) interventions are an important but underutilised component in the management of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). The challenge remains how to deliver cost effective PA interventions that have impact on individual behaviour. Digital technologies can support and promote PA remotely at scale. We describe the development of a behaviourally informed smartphone application (Stay-Active) for women attending an NHS GDM clinic. Stay-Active will support an existing motivational interviewing intervention to increase and maintain PA in this population. Methods: The behaviour change wheel (BCW) eight step theoretical approach was used to design the application. It provided a systematic approach to understanding the target behaviour, identifying relevant intervention functions, and specifying intervention content. The target behaviour was to increase and maintain PA. To obtain a behavioural diagnosis, qualitative evidence was combined with focus groups on the barriers and facilitators to PA in women with GDM. The findings were mapped onto the Capability Opportunity Motivation-Behaviour (COM-B) model and Theoretical Domains Framework to identify what needs to change for the target behaviour and linked to appropriate intervention functions. Finally, behaviour changes techniques (BCT) and modes of delivery that are most likely to serve the intervention functions were selected. Current evidence, patient focus groups and input from key stakeholders informed Stay-Active’s development. Results: We found that psychological capability, reflective and automatic motivation, social and physical opportunity needed to change to increase PA in women with GDM. The four key intervention functions identified were Enablement, Education, Persuasion and Training. Stay-Active incorporates these four intervention functions delivering ten BCTs including: goal setting, credible source, self-monitoring, action planning, prompts and cues. The final design of Stay-Active delivers these BCTs via an educational resource centre, with goal setting and action planning features, personalised performance feedback and individualised promotional messages. Conclusion: The BCW has enabled the systematic and comprehensive development of Stay-Active to promote PA in women with GDM within an NHS Maternity service. The next phase is to conduct a trial to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a multi-component intervention that combines Stay-Active with PA Motivational Interviewing.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth

Publication Date