Interventions Using Wearable Physical Activity Trackers among Adults with Cardiometabolic Conditions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

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Importance: Wearable physical activity (PA) trackers, such as accelerometers, fitness trackers, and pedometers, are accessible technologies that may encourage increased PA levels in line with current recommendations. However, whether their use is associated with improvements in PA levels in participants who experience 1 or more cardiometabolic conditions, such as diabetes, prediabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, is unknown. Objective: To assess the association of interventions using wearable PA trackers (accelerometers, fitness trackers, and pedometers) with PA levels and other health outcomes in adults with cardiometabolic conditions. Data Sources: For this systematic review and meta-analysis, searches of MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and PsycINFO were performed from January 1, 2000, until December 31, 2020, with no language restriction. A combination of Medical Subject Heading terms and text words of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, pedometers, accelerometers, and Fitbits were used. Study Selection: Randomized clinical trials or cluster randomized clinical trials that evaluated the use of wearable PA trackers, such as pedometers, accelerometers, or fitness trackers, were included. Trials were excluded if they assessed the trackers only as measuring tools of PA before and after another intervention, they required participants to be hospitalized, assessors were not blinded to the trackers, or they used a tracker to measure the effect of a pharmacological treatment on PA among individuals. Data Extraction and Synthesis: The study followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) reporting guideline. A random-effects model was used for the meta-analysis. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was mean difference in PA levels. When the scale was different across studies, standardized mean differences were calculated. Heterogeneity was quantified using the I 2statistic and explored using mixed-effects metaregression. Results: A total of 38 randomized clinical trials with 4203 participants were eligible in the systematic review; 29 trials evaluated pedometers, and 9 evaluated accelerometers or fitness trackers. Four studies did not provide amenable outcome data, leaving 34 trials (3793 participants) for the meta-analysis. Intervention vs comparator analysis showed a significant association of wearable tracker use with increased PA levels overall (standardized mean difference, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.46-0.97; I 2= 88%; 95% CI, 84.3%-90.8%; P <.001) in studies with short to medium follow-up for median of 15 (range, 12-52) weeks. Multivariable metaregression showed an association between increased PA levels and interventions that involved face-to-face consultations with facilitators (23 studies; β = -0.04; 95% CI, -0.11 to -0.01), included men (23 studies; β = 0.48; 95% CI, 0.01-0.96), and assessed pedometer-based interventions (26 studies; β = 0.20; 95% CI, 0.02-0.32). Conclusions and Relevance: In this systematic review and meta-analysis, interventions that combined wearable activity trackers with health professional consultations were associated with significant improvements in PA levels among people with cardiometabolic conditions..

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e2116382
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2021


  • Physical activity
  • Cardiometabolic
  • Meta-analyses


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