Acceptability of the Pregnancy, Exercise, and Nutrition Research Study With Smartphone App Support (PEARS) and the Use of Mobile Health in a Mixed Lifestyle Intervention by Pregnant Obese and Overweight Women: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Type Article

Journal Article


E. M. Greene; E. C. O'Brien; M. A. Kennelly; O. A. O'Brien; K. L. Lindsay; F. M. McAuliffe

Year of publication



JMIR Mhealth Uhealth








BACKGROUND: Dietary interventions can improve pregnancy outcomes among women with increased BMI. Although the interest in mobile health interventions is growing, little is known about the acceptability of smartphone apps to support lifestyle interventions in such a cohort. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to assess the acceptability of the pregnancy, exercise, and nutrition research study with smartphone app support (PEARS) and the use of mobile health in a mixed lifestyle intervention delivered to overweight and obese pregnant women. METHODS: PEARS was a randomized controlled trial of a low glycemic index dietary intervention with exercise prescription and a smartphone app, which was delivered to pregnant women who were overweight or obese. Acceptability questionnaires were completed by the intervention group at 28 weeks of gestation (n=149) and at postintervention (n=123). Maternal characteristics were recorded (ie, age, ethnicity, BMI, socioeconomic status). Associations between maternal characteristics and acceptability of the intervention and app were analyzed using two-tailed t tests, Mann-Whitney U tests, chi-square test, and logistic regression. One-on-one semistructured interviews were conducted with a subcohort of the intervention participants (n=28) at 34 weeks of gestation, in which the participants shared their experiences of the PEARS intervention. RESULTS: The intervention was generally accepted, with respondents agreeing that the diet was easy to follow (98/148, 68.5%), enjoyable (106/148, 74.1%), and affordable (110/148, 76.9%). Qualitative and quantitative results were consistent with each another, both demonstrating that app acceptability was high. The participants agreed that the app was enjoyable (96/120, 80.0%) and easy to use (116/119, 97.5%). Compared to those with tertiary education, those with lower education levels were more likely to enjoy the dietary changes (P=.04). Enjoyment of the app was associated with disadvantaged neighborhood deprivation index (P=.01) and higher BMI (P=.03). CONCLUSIONS: The PEARS intervention and use of a supportive smartphone app were accepted by pregnant women, particularly by those from vulnerable subgroups of this population. TRIAL REGISTRATION: International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) 29316280;