Background: Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common and severe disease with a highly increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Through the circulatory disorder and the linked undersupply of oxygen carriers in the lower limbs, the ongoing decrease of the pain-free walking distance occurs with a significant reduction in patients’ quality of life. Studies including activity monitoring for patients with PAD are rare and digital support to increase activity via mobile health technologies is mainly targeted at patients with cardiovascular disease in general. The special requirement of patients with PAD is the need to reach a certain pain level to improve the pain-free walking distance. Unfortunately, both poor adherence and availability of institutional resources are major problems in patient-centered care.
Objective: The objective of this trackPAD pilot study is to evaluate the feasibility of a mobile phone–based self tracking app to promote physical activity and supervised exercise therapy (SET) in particular. We also aim for a subsequent patient centered adjustment of the app prototype based on the results of the app evaluation and process evaluation.
Methods: This study was designed as a closed user group trial, with assessors blinded, and parallel group study with face-to-face components for assessment with a follow-up of 3 months. Patients with symptomatic PAD (Fontaine stage IIa or IIb) and possession of a mobile phone were eligible. Eligible participants were randomly assigned into study and control group, stratified by their distance covered in the 6-min walk test, using the software TENALEA. Participants randomized to the study group received usual care and the mobile intervention (trackPAD) for the follow-up period of 3 months, whereas participants randomized to the control group received only usual care. TrackPAD records the frequency and duration of training sessions and pain level using manual user input. Clinical outcome data were collected at the baseline and after 3 months via validated tools (6-min walk test, ankle-brachial index, and duplex ultrasound at the lower arteries) and self-reported quality of life. Usability and quality of the app was determined using the user version of the Mobile Application Rating Scale.
Results: The study enrolled 45 participants with symptomatic PAD (44% male). Of these participants, 21 (47%) were randomized to the study group and 24 (53%) were randomized to the control group. The distance walked in the 6-min walk test was comparable in both groups at baseline (study group: mean 368.1m [SD 77.6] vs control group: mean 394.6m [SD 100.6]).
Conclusions: This is the first trial to test a mobile intervention called trackPAD that was designed especially for patients with PAD. Its results will provide important insights in terms of feasibility, effectiveness, and patient preferences of an app-based mobile intervention supporting SET for the conservative treatment of PAD.