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Texting to Increase Adolescent Physical Activity: Feasibility Assessment

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Objective: Feasibility trials assess whether a behavior change program warrants a definite trial evaluation. This paper reports the feasibility of an intervention consisting of Self Determination Theory-informed text messages, pedometers, and goal prompts to increase adolescent physical activity. Methods: A 4-group randomized design with baseline and immediate post-study assessments was used. Groups (pedometer; pedometer + goal prompt; pedometer + goal prompt + theory-informed texts; no-treatment control) were systematically varied to assess the additive effect of intervention components on objectively measured physical activity (ie, ActiGraph). The primary outcome of the 12-week intervention was program feasibility. Changes in average daily step counts and minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity also were examined. Post-intervention research with a subset of participants examined program reactions. Results: Participants (N = 160) were evenly split by sex, mostly 14-15 years old, and of diverse race/ethnicity. Feasibility criteria were met. The attrition rate was less than 2%. Modest increases in average daily step counts and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were observed in all groups except the control group. Participants reported positive reactions to the intervention. Conclusions: An intervention consisting of pedometers, theory-informed texts, and goal prompts, is a feasible and acceptable method for promoting physical activity to adolescents.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA. [email protected] 2: USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA 3: Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA 4: Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA 5: Centre for Exercise, Nutrition & Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK 6: Department of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Publication date: July 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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