A Social Media–Based Physical Activity Intervention

Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Electronic address: .
American journal of preventive medicine (Impact Factor: 4.53). 11/2012; 43(5):527-32. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.07.019
Source: PubMed


Online social networks, such as Facebook™, have extensive reach, and they use technology that could enhance social support, an established determinant of physical activity. This combination of reach and functionality makes online social networks a promising intervention platform for increasing physical activity.
To test the efficacy of a physical activity intervention that combined education, physical activity monitoring, and online social networking to increase social support for physical activity compared to an education-only control.
RCT. Students (n=134) were randomized to two groups: education-only controls receiving access to a physical activity-focused website (n=67) and intervention participants receiving access to the same website with physical activity self-monitoring and enrollment in a Facebook group (n=67). Recruitment and data collection occurred in 2010 and 2011; data analyses were performed in 2011.
Female undergraduate students at a large southeastern public university.
Intervention participants were encouraged through e-mails, website instructions, and moderator communications to solicit and provide social support related to increasing physical activity through a physical activity-themed Facebook group. Participants received access to a dedicated website with educational materials and a physical activity self-monitoring tool.
The primary outcome was perceived social support for physical activity; secondary outcomes included self-reported physical activity.
Participants experienced increases in social support and physical activity over time but there were no differences in perceived social support or physical activity between groups over time. Facebook participants posted 259 times to the group. Two thirds (66%) of intervention participants completing a post-study survey indicated that they would recommend the program to friends.
Use of an online social networking group plus self-monitoring did not produce greater perceptions of social support or physical activity as compared to education-only controls. Given their promising features and potential reach, efforts to further understand how online social networks can be used in health promotion should be pursued.
This study is registered at clinicaltrials.govNCT01421758.

Download full-text


Available from: Jane D Brown, May 28, 2015
80 Reads
  • Source
    • "A recent systematic review identified four studies which have attempted to use Facebook to alter physical activity behaviours [13]. Three of these studies used a Facebook community group with a discussion board, and produced modest results [14], [15], [16]. A strength of Facebook is the ability to recruit users and deliver an intervention via online social networks. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background Women’s physical activity levels decline during their transition to parenthood. Facebook is widely used by Australian mothers and provides the opportunity to target social networks in order to maintain and increase physical activity. Method This mixed method study aimed to pilot and assess the usability of the Mums Step It Up Facebook app, a new team-based physical activity intervention for mothers with young children. A purposive sample of five “Captain” women with young children, were recruited through personal contacts. These women used the app to recruit 3–7 Facebook friends (with children under 5) to join their respective teams (total n = 25). The app encourages women to take 10,000 steps a day measured by a pedometer. Women used the app for 28 days to log steps, interact with team mates and monitor progress. Physical activity was assessed at two time points (baseline and final week) using the Active Australia Survey. Usability testing with the five “Captain” women took place over two one hour face-to-face sessions. A questionnaire seeking feedback on the app was completed at time point two. Results Participants’ total physical activity increased by an average of 177 minutes per week (p = 0.01). The complexity of the team forming process and issues using the Facebook environment, where a variety of devices and software platforms are used, was highlighted. Discussion A team-based Facebook app shows considerable promise for the recruitment and retention of participants to a social network-based physical activity intervention. A randomised controlled trial to further evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention is warranted.
    PLoS ONE 10/2014; 9(10):e108842. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0108842 · 3.23 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Facebook is a promising venue for health promotion given its ubiquity and that users can share their experiences in real-time [21] [47]. Although this social networking platform has been shown to increase self-esteem [8] [48] [49] and life satisfaction [8] [50], there is limited evidence regarding its impact on health behaviors [51], in particular from prospective studies. The study also is expected to contribute to our understanding of the strengths and limitations of using Facebook in health promotion research more broadly. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To describe the theoretical rationale, intervention design, and clinical trial of a two-year weight control intervention for young adults deployed via social and mobile media. A total of 404 overweight or obese college students from three Southern California universities (Mage=22(+4) years; MBMI=29(+2.8); 70% female) were randomized to participate in the intervention or to receive an informational web-based weight loss program. The intervention is based on behavioral theory and integrates intervention elements across multiple touch points, including Facebook, SMS, smartphone applications, blogs, and e-mail. Participants are encouraged to seek social support among their friends, self-monitor their weight weekly, post their health behaviors on Facebook, and e-mail their weight loss questions/concerns to a health coach. The intervention is adaptive because new theory-driven and iteratively tailored intervention elements are developed and released over the course of the two-year intervention in response to patterns of use and user feedback. Measures of body mass index, waist circumference, physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior (SED), diet, weight management practices, smoking, alcohol, sleep, body image, self-esteem, and depression occur at 6, 12, 18, and 24months. Currently, all participants have been recruited, and all are in the final year of the trial. Theory-driven, evidence-based strategies for PA, SED, and dietary intake can be embedded in an intervention using social and mobile technologies to promote healthy weight-related behaviors in young adults.
    Contemporary clinical trials 11/2013; 37(1). DOI:10.1016/j.cct.2013.11.001 · 1.94 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "To build stronger PA interventions, it is important to determine if network-building procedures improve effects beyond those achieved with existing, state-of-the-art practices. Among existing evaluations of network-building procedures for PA [9,11,45-47], only one study to our knowledge assessed the incremental contribution of online networking procedures to a prior evidence-based PA intervention [11]. Self-reported outcomes suggested that online networking procedures did not enhance intervention effectiveness. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: High rates of physical inactivity compromise the health status of populations globally. Social networks have been shown to influence physical activity (PA), but little is known about how best to engineer social networks to sustain PA. To improve procedures for building networks that shape PA as a normative behavior, there is a need for more specific hypotheses about how social variables influence PA. There is also a need to integrate concepts from network science with ecological concepts that often guide the design of in-person and electronically-mediated interventions. Therefore, this paper: (1) proposes a conceptual model that integrates principles from network science and ecology across in-person and electronically-mediated intervention modes; and (2) illustrates the application of this model to the design and evaluation of a social network intervention for PA.Methods/design: A conceptual model for engineering social networks was developed based on a scoping literature review of modifiable social influences on PA. The model guided the design of a cluster randomized controlled trial in which 308 sedentary adults were randomly assigned to three groups: WalkLink+: prompted and provided feedback on participants' online and in-person social-network interactions to expand networks for PA, plus provided evidence-based online walking program and weekly walking tips; WalkLink: evidence-based online walking program and weekly tips only; Minimal Treatment Control: weekly tips only. The effects of these treatment conditions were assessed at baseline, post-program, and 6-month follow-up. The primary outcome was accelerometer-measured PA. Secondary outcomes included objectively-measured aerobic fitness, body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, and neighborhood walkability; and self-reported measures of the physical environment, social network environment, and social network interactions. The differential effects of the three treatment conditions on primary and secondary outcomes will be analyzed using general linear modeling (GLM), or generalized linear modeling if the assumptions for GLM cannot be met. Results will contribute to greater understanding of how to conceptualize and implement social networks to support long-term PA. Establishing social networks for PA across multiple life settings could contribute to cultural norms that sustain active living.Trial registration: NCT01142804.
    BMC Public Health 08/2013; 13(1):753. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-13-753 · 2.26 Impact Factor
Show more