FitViz: Visualizing Activity for Arthritis Patients

In this research, we presented FitViz, a web application to facilitate self-management of arthritis and a data-based communication between the patients and their clinicians. FitViz was successful in enabling reflection and awareness, providing encouragement, and providing objective measurements of physical activity to clinicians. However, there are certain aspects such the calendar view which remained largely unused. Further, we found that strict definitions of success can be discouraging for patients.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects 1 in 100 adults in Canada. Self-management of this disease requires that the patients maintain an adequate level of daily physical activity, while not overdoing it; excessive physical activity can be harmful to RA patients. The RA patients receive regular physical activity recommendations from their clinicians, based on the condition of their disease. Current solutions for physical activity monitor do not satisfy the needs of the arthritis patients and their clinicians, as they do not allow the patients and the clinicians to know if the patients did the physical activity as recommended by the clinicians.


Therefore, we developed a web application which monitors patient’s daily physical activity, and generates visualizations to help the patients in the self-management of the disease.

A patient can select a range of days using the start date, and end date to see bouts performed in the past. (a) An hour range slider allows the patient to select a range of times in a day to visualize.

FitViz Visualization for a day.
(a) Visualization of bouts, non-sedentary hours, and sleep in a day. The width of the bar represents the duration of the PA session, and the height of the bar represents the average intensity level of the physical activity; (b) The patient can change date; (c) Progress towards daily goals: minutes doing bouts, non-sedentary hours, and No. of steps.


All participants found the system engaging. FitViz received a high usability score.

Encouragement from Non-sedentary Successes.
We found that the participants found the walking icons at the bottom of the visualization were helpful.

Supporting Reflection and Awareness.
Visualizations which provide an overview of whether or not a goal was achieved is useful. However, detailed visualizations can be important for reflecting and gaining awareness about self.

Disregarding Partial Successes Is Discouraging.
One of the aspects of FitViz that the participants found frustrating was that FitViz does not recognize bouts even if they are only slightly lower than recommended intensity, duration, or have a break of more than one minute.


In this pilot study, we focused on the feasibility of the application, and understanding its use. In future research, we plan to study how FitViz can support long-term behavior changes. The findings of this research can provide design implications and inspirations for personal activity data visualization, especially for arthritis patients.


Gupta, A., Tong, X., Shaw, C., Li, L., & Feehan, L. (2017, July). FitViz: A personal informatics tool for self-management of rheumatoid arthritis. In International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (pp. 232-240). Springer, Cham.



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