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York professor studying how mobile devices like a BlackBerry can help manage your weight

York professor studying how mobile devices like a BlackBerry can help manage your weight

For York University researcher and health psychologist Paul Ritvo, a professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science in the Faculty of Health, the BlackBerry has potential to help manage chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, wrote the Toronto Star April 18:

Ritvo has pioneered a study, currently underway, that hopes to explore how mobile technologies such as BlackBerrys can be used as a way of reinforcing good health habits by facilitating ongoing feedback.

Harvey Skinner, the dean of York’s Faculty of Health and a colleague of Ritvo’s, says “motivational drift” can make it difficult for people to continue with healthy behavioural changes. “We start off with good intentions, maybe initiate a change, say an exercise program, and then days later, weeks later, months later, we start encountering some challenges in keeping to our goal and in keeping to the routine.”

The key, Skinner suggests, is ongoing feedback, and mobile technologies are a tool with the capacity to provide that kind of around-the-clock communication between a patient and a health provider.

According to Ritvo, the goal of the “engaged health coaching program” is to make the patients, who are part of a community that reports high rates of diabetes, to “really feel there’s somebody who is very concerned about your health, and is giving you the best information you can get at the times when you most need it.”

In the long run, this kind of care has the potential to reduce the strain on the health-care system.

“I see this as the first step of trying to apply it to a whole range of health problems, including depression, for example, where there wouldn’t be a physical problem, but there would be ways where people could alter their lifestyles so as to support their moods,” says Ritvo.

The complete article is available on the Toronto Star's Web site.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.