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 journalArticle

Abstract

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)
JournalJournal of American College Health
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

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

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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