Do digital tools improve physical activity in COPD?

Compared with usual care, a web-based, self-management support tool improved physical activity levels of COPD patients, suggest preliminary trial results.

Clinically relevant improvement in physical activity after 3 months

Physical activity has been associated with clinical benefits for patients with COPD, however, it is unclear which type of intervention results in the largest behavioural change1. The current randomised-controlled trial, presented by Prof. Andre Nyberg (University of Umeå, Sweden), included 146 patients with COPD to evaluate the effect of a web-based support tool on physical activity2. In the control arm, participants received usual care, a folder about physical activity in COPD and a step counter. In the intervention arm, the participants received the options from the control arm plus access to the so-called COPD-web, including information on the benefits of physical activity, how to increase physical activity, exercises, and reminder messages.

After 3 months, the web-based intervention led to a clinically relevant improvement in physical activity compared with the control arm (mean change +1,227 steps/day; 95% CI 90–2,365). In addition, 50% versus 28% of the participants in the experimental arm and the control arm achieved a minimal clinically important difference of >600 steps per day.

“These preliminary results show that a web-based, self-management support tool may lead to an objective, clinically relevant improvement in physical activity in the short term compared with usual care,” concluded Prof. Nyberg. “Furthermore, interview-based information teaches us that patients in the intervention arm felt an increased sense of control to improve their physical activity level by being able to use the web-based tool we developed.”

  1. Burge AT, et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020;4(4):CD012626.
  2. Stenlund T, et al. Clinically relevant effects on physical activity with web-based self-management support in people with COPD: a randomized controlled trial. ALERT 2, RCT2160, ERS International Congress 2022, Barcelona, Spain, 4–6 September.