BACKGROUND: The renal diet is complex and requires alterations of the diet and careful monitoring of various nutrients. Elevated serum phosphorus is common among patients undergoing hemodialysis, and it is associated with many complications. Smartphone technology could be used to support both dietitians and patients by providing a source of accessible and reliable information.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this pilot is to assess the potential efficacy of an intervention using the educational and self-monitoring mobile app KELA.AE on the phosphorous management in hemodialysis patients. Results will be used to improve both the app and a planned, rigorous large-scale trial intended to assess app efficacy.
METHODS: This is a prospective pilot study performed at the hemodialysis unit of Al Qassimi Hospital (Emirate of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates). All patients were assessed for eligibility and, based on inclusion criteria, considered for enrollment. Participants met with a dietitian once a week and used the mobile app regularly for 2 weeks. Outcomes (knowledge, self-reported nonadherence, dietary intake, anthropometry, and biochemical data) were measured. This pilot is reported as per guidelines for nonrandomized pilot and feasibility studies and in line with the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) 2010 checklist for reporting pilot or feasibility trials.
RESULTS: Of 26 subjects, 23 successfully completed the pilot. Patient dietary knowledge about phosphorous management improved from 51.4% (SD 13.9) to 68.1% (SD 13.3) after intervention with a large effect size (d=1.22, 95% CI 0.59 to 1.85). Dietary protein intake increased from a mean of 0.9 g/kg (SD 0.3) per day to a mean of 1.3 g/kg (SD 0.5) per day with a large effect size (d=1.07, 95% CI 0.45 to 1.69). Phosphorus to protein ratio dropped from a mean of 18.4 mg/g protein to 13.5 mg/g protein with a large effect size (d=0.83, 95% CI 0.22 to 1.43). There was no evidence of change in phosphorous intake, self-reported nonadherence, and serum phosphorus.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this prospective pilot reveal the potential efficacy of a smartphone app as a supportive nutrition education tool for phosphorus management in patients undergoing hemodialysis. This pilot study showed that the KELA.AE app has the potential to improve knowledge and dietary choices. A rigorous randomized controlled trial should be performed to evaluate the efficacy, assessing app use of a long-term intervention.