Introduction: College students are at risk for poorer health behaviors. Therefore, this study evaluated the combined effectiveness of the Polar M400 smartwatch and a theoretically-grounded, Facebook-delivered health education intervention at improving college students’ health behaviors/outcomes versus comparison. Intervention use/acceptability and validation of Polar M400 health metric data were also assessed. Methods: Thirty-eight college students (28 female; X̅age=21.5±3.4 years) participated in this two-arm randomized 12-week pilot trial. After screening, participants were randomized into two groups: (a) experimental-received Polar M400 and a twice-weekly Social Cognitive Theory (SCT)- and Self-Determination Theory (SDT)-based, Facebook-delivered health education intervention; and (b) comparison-enrolled only in separate, but content-identical, Facebook group. ActiGraph Link accelerometers and the National Cancer Institute’s ASA24 food recall measured PA and dietary behaviors, respectively. Health-related SCT and SDT psychosocial constructs were measured using psychometrically-validated questionnaires while the YMCA 3-Minute step test and bioelectrical impedance assessed cardiorespiratory fitness and body fat percentage, respectively. Results: Retention rate was 92.1%, with an intent-to-treat analysis performed. Baseline comparisons revealed only one significant difference between groups for whole grain consumption (p=0.03). For PA, a trend toward a significant main effect for time was observed for moderate-to-vigorous PA, F(2, 72)=2.6, p=0.08; partial eta-squared=0.07, with experimental and comparison groups demonstrating 4.2- and 1.6-minute/day increases, respectively, over time. For secondary outcomes, both groups demonstrated non-significantly decreased weight from baseline to 12 weeks (experimental: -0.6 kg; comparison: -0.5 kg). Further, significant main effects for time were observed for self-efficacy, social support, and intrinsic motivation (all p<0.01; partial eta-squared range: 0.18-0.38) as both groups improved over time. Finally, both groups demonstrated consistently decreased daily kcaloric consumption during the intervention. Intervention adherence was high (~86%), with health education tips implemented multiple times weekly. Validation of the Polar M400 versus the ActiGraph Link suggested moderate validity/reliability for steps per day measurements, with poor validity/reliability observed for Polar M400 daily activity time measurements. Discussion: The current study’s observations indicated initial efficacy of an intervention combining a smartwatch and theoretically-grounded, social media-delivered health education intervention on improving college students’ health behaviors/outcomes. Yet, this intervention may not provide greater benefit than comparison. Future studies should build upon noted limitations.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2018. Major: Kinesiology. Advisor: Zan Gao. 1 computer file (PDF); xv, 202 pages.
Use of Wearable Technology and Social Media to Improve Physical Activity and Dietary Behaviors among College Students: A 12-week Randomized Pilot Study.
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