Results from one of Healthier Lives’ phase one projects, OL@-OR@, a Māori and Pasifika mHealth approach to supporting healthy lifestyles, were published last month in The Lancet Digital Health.
The research team* developed and evaluated an app to support healthy lifestyles (known as OL@-OR@), with distinct culturally-tailored versions for Māori and Pasifika.
The research was co-designed with Māori and Pacific communities from start to finish, and the success of this co-design approach has attracted international interest – an Australian research team visited New Zealand in August to learn more about it with a view to adapting the OL@-OR@ approach for indigenous Australian communities.
OL@-OR@ was evaluated through a large-scale randomised controlled trial, also co-designed with communities, to test its effects on risk factors for non-communicable diseases and community wellbeing.
The results of the trial showed improvements over time in health-related behaviours, including physical activity, and fruit and vegetable consumption. There were no statistically significant differences between the intervention and control groups however, although participants who engaged with the OL@-OR@ app and set behaviour change goals showed significant improvements compared with the control group.
The findings suggest that while apps are not for everyone, they may support behaviour change in those motivated to engage with them. To achieve meaningful improvements in population health, comprehensive policies and programmes that include proven structural and system-level changes, as well as supportive mHealth tools, are required.
We are very proud of the OL@-OR@ research team who won two bronze awards – in the Public Good and User Experience categories – at the Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Design Awards earlier this month. There were more than 1,200 entries across all categories so the team was very excited to win two bronzes.
This short video captures some of the enthusiasm in communities for the OL@-OR@ programme: Best Design Awards 2019
During its evaluation the OL@-OR@ app was used by almost 1,500 people from 69 communities across New Zealand. Feedback from app users has been incredibly positive. There is now a lot of interest from a range of community groups and individuals in using the app as a tool to support lifestyle behaviour change.
Healthier Lives is supporting the maintenance of the OL@-OR@ app for one year while a Kaitiaki group is established to manage it in future.
OL@-OR@ is already available to individuals in the App Store. Organisations interested in investigating how the app can be used and adapted within their community are welcome to contact the Kaitiaki group by emailing Jacqui Grey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication of results
The results of OL@-ORA, published in The Lancet Digital Health, are available at the link below.
*The OL@-OR@ project was hosted by the National Institute for Health Innovation at the University of Auckland. Toi Tangata, The Fono, and the South
Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services Trust were community partners on the project. The research leaders were Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu (University of Auckland), Dr Lisa Te Morenga (Victoria University of Wellington) and Dr Riz Firestone (Massey University).
For more information, visit the OL@-OR@ website: welltext.auckland.ac.nz
- A Māori and Pasifika mHealth approach research project
- Developing a mobile health tool by co-design
- A journey towards health, in the palm of your hand
Download the OL@-OR@ app: