ARTICLE: Randomized trial of two artificial intelligence coaching interventions to increase physical activity in cancer survivors
JOURNAL: NPJ Digit Med. 2021 Dec 9;4(1):168. doi: 10.1038/s41746-021-00539-9.
Physical activity (PA) has numerous health benefits. Personalized coaching may increase adherence to PA recommendations, but it is challenging to deliver personalized coaching in a scalable manner. The objective of our study was to determine whether novel artificially intelligent (AI) coaching interventions increase PA among overweight or obese, physically inactive cancer survivors compared to a control arm that receives health information. We conducted a single-center, three-arm randomized trial with equal allocation to (1) voice-assisted AI coaching delivered by smart speaker (MyCoach), (2) autonomous AI coaching delivered by text message (SmartText), and (3) control. Data collection was automated via sensors and voice technology, effectively masking outcome ascertainment. The primary outcome was change in mean steps per day from baseline to the end of follow-up at 4 weeks. Of the 42 randomized participants, 91% were female, and 36% were Black; mean age was 62.1 years, and mean BMI was 32.9 kg/m2. The majority were breast cancer survivors (85.7%). At the end of 4 weeks follow-up, steps increased in the MyCoach arm by an average of 3618.2 steps/day; the net gain in this arm was significantly greater [net difference = 3568.9 steps/day (95% CI: 1483-5655), P value <0.001] compared to control arm, and [net difference = 2160.6 steps/day (95% CI: 11-4310), P value 0.049] compared to SmartText. In conclusion, AI-based voice-assisted coaching shows promise as a practical method of delivering scalable, individualized coaching to increase physical activity in sedentary cancer survivors. Additional research is needed to replicate these findings in a broader population of cancer survivors and to investigate the effects of these interventions in the general population.
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