The Fono

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A mobile health tool for the Pacific community

The Fono is excited to help carry out research in the development and trialing of a new Pacific healthy lifestyle mobile app called Ol@-Or@. The innovative app, aimed at improving the health and well-being of Pacific communities, has been developed for Pacific people by Pacific people.

Based on the Fonofale Pasifika health model, Ol@-Or@ (pronounced Ola-Ora) is a project facilitated by The National Institute for Health Innovation.

The app is a mobile health tool created in partnership with our Maori and Pacific communities to help improve the health and wellbeing of each app user.

For The Fono, involvement in the programme has been about improving not just the lives of our patients but of the general Pacific community, in a way that allows people to take control of their health.

“Ideally in the long-term it would be great if it improves health and wellbeing, and gives people back some autonomy in terms of their health,” says community research coordinator at The Fono, Emily Hughes.

“A lot of people, regardless of their cultural identity depend on the healthcare system to tell them what to do to benefit themselves.”

“Mobile health apps like this give people the power back - they feel like they can do it. They can get themselves healthy, figure out what is good to eat, figure out how much water they need to drink and track their own progress."

More importantly is the benefit of a culturally tailored environment built into the tool.

“I think that’s part of the reason why some nutrition programmes don’t work very well- the advice that they’re giving doesn’t take into account different cultures and what that means. They aren’t developed in a context that people can relate to.”

Ol@-Or@ provides a safe environment where people can use healthy lifestyle tools tailored to them.

Developed using co-design methods, with input from Pacific and Maori communities all throughout the process, the tool also takes into account emotional, family and spiritual wellbeing.

The user can add friends and family, upload a profile photo, join exercise and community groups, set health goals and track life and health progress.

Incorporating user-generated content, the community will be responsible for uploading content like activities, healthy recipes and exercise groups - much like a social media platform.

“You can do group challenges with your friends and family,” says Emily.

“So if you all want to walk two kilometres a day, you can add all your friends to the group challenge and you can track each other’s’ progress.”

The data syncs to your health app on your phone, using trackers on the app to keep the information on Ol@-Or@ up to date.

“It uploads your steps for you, and you get messages encouraging you to reach your goal,” says Emily.

You can also get reminders about health appointments; measure your daily steps, water and food intake.

Currently in its trial phase, The Fono is helping evaluate the tool’s usefulness by recruiting groups of up to 40 people to participate in the research.

Groups can sign up and will be randomly assigned to either use the Ol@-Ora tool (intervention condition) or a simplified version which only collects data (control condition).

Participants in the intervention groups will use the tool for 12 weeks, while participants in the simplified version (control condition) will be able to use the tool after the 12-week trial period.

“We just want to understand whether the tool is working and how it’s working within the community- whether people like it and whether it’s improving their health and wellbeing.”

At the end of the 12 weeks the groups receive a generous koha.

Find Out more

To find out more or sign up to the Ol@-Or@ trial, contact Emily Hughes at The Fono Henderson: 

Emily.hughes@thefono.org

To find out more about Ol@-Or@ visit the website 

www.olaora.auckland.ac.nz

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