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Health Professions


Background: With an increase in aging population and chronic medical conditions in the United States, the role of informal caregivers has become paramount as they engage in the care of their loved ones. Mounting evidence suggests that such responsibilities place substantial burden on informal caregivers and can negatively impact their health. New wearable health and activity trackers (wearables) are increasingly being used to facilitate and monitor healthy behaviors and to improve health outcomes. Although prior studies have examined the efficacy of wearables in improving health and well-being in the general population, little is known about their benefits among informal caregivers.

Objective: This study aimed to examine the association between use of wearables and levels of physical activity (PA) among informal caregivers in the United States.

Methods: We used data from the National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trends Survey 5 (cycle 3, 2019 and cycle 4, 2020) for a nationally representative sample of 1273 community-dwelling informal caregivers—aged ≥18 years, 60% (757/1273) female, 75.7% (990/1273) had some college or more in education, and 67.3% (885/1273) had ≥1 chronic medical condition—in the United States. Using jackknife replicate weights, a multivariable logistic regression was fit to assess an independent association between the use of wearables and a binary outcome: meeting or not meeting the current World Health Organization’s recommendation of PA for adults (≥150 minutes of at least moderate-intensity PA per week).

Results: More than one-third (466/1273, 37.8%) of the informal caregivers met the recommendations for adult PA. However, those who reported using wearables (390/1273, 31.7%) had slightly higher odds of meeting PA recommendations (adjusted odds ratios 1.1, 95% CI 1.04-1.77; P=.04) compared with those who did not use wearables.

Conclusions: The results demonstrated a positive association between the use of wearables and levels of PA among informal caregivers in the United States. Therefore, efforts to incorporate wearable technology into the development of health-promoting programs or interventions for informal caregivers could potentially improve their health and well-being. However, any such effort should address the disparities in access to innovative digital technologies, including wearables, to promote health equity. Future longitudinal studies are required to further support the current findings of this study.

Publication Title

JMIR mHealth and uHealth





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