Increasing physical activity in stroke survivors using STARFISH, an interactive mobile phone application: a pilot study

Lorna Paul, Sally Wyke, Stephen Brewster, Naveed Sattar, Jason M.R. Gill, Gillian Alexander, Danny Rafferty, Angus K. McFadyen, Andrew Ramsay, Aleksandra Dybus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Following stroke, people are generally less active and more sedentary which can worsen outcomes. Mobile phone applications (apps) can support change in health behaviors. We developed STARFISH, a mobile phone app-based intervention, which incorporates evidence-based behavior change techniques (feedback, self-monitoring and social support), in which users’ physical activity is visualized by fish swimming. Objective: To evaluate the potential effectiveness of STARFISH in stroke survivors. Method: Twenty-three people with stroke (12 women; age: 56.0 ± 10.0 years, time since stroke: 4.2 ± 4.0 years) from support groups in Glasgow completed the study. Participants were sequentially allocated in a 2:1 ratio to intervention (n = 15) or control (n = 8) groups. The intervention group followed the STARFISH program for six weeks; the control group received usual care. Outcome measures included physical activity, sedentary time, heart rate, blood pressure, body mass index, Fatigue Severity Scale, Instrumental Activity of Daily Living Scale, Ten-Meter Walk Test, Stroke Specific Quality of Life Scale, and Psychological General Well-Being Index. Results: The average daily step count increased by 39.3% (4158 to 5791 steps/day) in the intervention group and reduced by 20.2% (3694 to 2947 steps/day) in the control group (p = 0.005 for group–time interaction). Similar patterns of data and group–time interaction were seen for walking time (p = 0.002) and fatigue (p = 0.003). There were no significant group–time interactions for other outcome measures. Conclusion: Use of STARFISH has the potential to improve physical activity and health outcomes in people after stroke and longer term intervention trials are warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-177
Number of pages8
JournalTopics in Stroke Rehabilitation
Issue number3
Early online date8 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • Chronic disease
  • Clinical trial
  • Intervention
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke
  • Telemedicine


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