Remote Dietary Counseling Using Smartphone Applications in Patients With Stages 1-3a Chronic Kidney Disease: A Mixed Methods Feasibility Study.


Geisinger Health System, Kidney Health Research Institute, Danville, PA; Geisinger Health System, Medicine Institute, Danville, PA. Electronic address: [Email]


OBJECTIVE : Although healthy dietary patterns are associated with decreased mortality in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), few patients receive dietitian counseling due to concerns such as dietitian availability, travel distance, and cost. Our objective was to determine the feasibility of dietary smartphone application-supported telecounseling to reduce sodium intake and improve dietary quality in patients with early CKD.
METHODS : This was a pre-post, mixed methods feasibility study of 16 patients with Stage 1-3a CKD in central/northeast Pennsylvania. Patients recorded and shared dietary data via smartphone applications with registered dietitians, who used motivational interviewing to provide telephone counseling weekly for 8 weeks. Seven patients were assigned to a customized study-specific application and nine patients to a commercially available, free application (MyFitnessPal). Participant satisfaction was assessed via survey, and participants were invited to complete a semistructured interview. Outcomes assessed included sodium intake, Healthy Eating Index 2015 score, weight, and 24-hour blood pressure (BP).
RESULTS : Mean age was 64.7 years, 31% were female, 100% were white, 13% had income <$25,000. Adherence was excellent with 14 (88%) entering dietary data at least 75% of total days. Patients reported high satisfaction with the intervention and dietitian telecounseling. Use of dietary apps was viewed positively for allowing tracking of sodium and energy intake although some participants experienced functionality issues with the customized application that were not generally experienced by those using the commercially available free application. Sodium intake (-604 mg/day, 95% confidence interval [CI]: -1,104 to -104), Healthy Eating Index 2015 score (3.97, 95% CI: 0.03-7.91), weight (-3.4, 95% CI: -6.6 to -0.1), daytime systolic BP (-5.8, 95% CI: -12.1 to 0.6), and daytime diastolic BP (-4.1, 95% CI: -7.9 to -0.2) improved after the intervention.
CONCLUSIONS : An application-supported telecounseling program with a registered dietitian appears to be a feasible and well-accepted strategy to improve dietary quality and improve cardiovascular risk factors in patients with early kidney disease.