Feasibility of smartphone application- and social media-based intervention on college students’ health outcomes: A pilot randomized trial

Zachary C. Pope, Zan Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective We evaluated the feasibility of a 10-week program combining a smartphone application and theoretically-based, social media-delivered health education intervention to improve college students’ health behaviors and outcomes. Participants: Forty-four college students (32 female; X̅age=21.6 years) in 2015-2016. Methods: Participants were randomized into one of two groups: (1) experimental: used MapMyFitness smartphone application to log and track physical activity (PA) and participated in a Social Cognitive Theory-based, Facebook-delivered health education intervention; (2) comparison: only included in a separate, but content-identical, Facebook intervention. Our primary outcomes pertained to intervention feasibility while our secondary outcomes reflected health behaviors and outcomes. Results: Intervention interest was high, with retention 95.5%. Experimental participants used MapMyFitness 1.71x/week, with both groups implementing the Facebook-delivered health education tips 1-3x/week. We observed a modest sedentary behavior reduction in the experimental group (−29.2-minutes/day). Additionally, both groups demonstrated slight reductions in weight (experimental:−1.2 kg/comparison:−0.6 kg) and body fat percentage (both groups:−0.8%-decrease). Increased PA-related social support and decreased barriers were observed. Conclusions: A low-burden and well-integrated social media-based intervention is feasible and of interest to college students, possibly improving select health behaviors and outcomes. PA-oriented smartphone application offered limited additional benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-98
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of American College Health
Issue number1
Early online dateMar 9 2020
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America (Contract #: CON000000055686; University Project #: 00051053). That said, SHAPE America had no input on the design, implementation, analysis, or reporting of the observations of the current trial. The authors thank the participants of this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Mobile health applications
  • physical activity
  • physiological health
  • psychosocial health
  • sedentary behavior
  • social media technology

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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