App to nudge drinkers in the right direction

The Hello Sunday Morning (HSM) organisation plans to release a mobile app to help participants more easily stick with the program, which aims to change their relationship with alcohol.

Medibank Health Solutions New Zealand has donated $50,000 to the development of the app, which should be available in April next year, through its Medibank Community Fund.

Hello Sunday Morning was launched in NZ in late 2011 and aims to influence behaviour through a three-month program that involves a blog, fitness and weight goals and improved mental health.

HSM general manager Jamie Moore said about 50 per cent of users access the program on their smartphones but the site is not as effective or accessible on mobile.

“The MCF grant will be used to build an advanced smartphone app that will enable HSM to support New Zealanders to have a healthier relationship with alcohol by providing them with support in the moments that the pressure to drink causes them to slip-up,” Mr Moore said.

HSM users sign up to go for three months or more without alcohol and blog about their journey. They also undertake regular questionnaires that help them assess their alcohol harm risk.

However, Mr Moore said this is too long for some people, so the app would be used to gradually nudge people towards their goals.

“It will integrate with other health apps HSM users like to use such as RunKeeper, Jawbone and MyFitnessPal and with social networking sites like Facebook, if they choose,” he said.

“Users will be able to put their drinking data on top of their fitness and sleep data and see if, for example, when they drink more they sleep and exercise less, which can help reinforce their reasons for taking a break from drinking, or drinking less.

“If people can physically see that information on their screen it makes it more real, and it’s important for them to be able to access that data and support on their mobile devices when, for example, they’re out on Saturday night.”

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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