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1.  Autonomous and controlled motivational regulations for multiple health-related behaviors: between- and within-participants analyses 
Self-determination theory has been applied to the prediction of a number of health-related behaviors with self-determined or autonomous forms of motivation generally more effective in predicting health behavior than non-self-determined or controlled forms. Research has been confined to examining the motivational predictors in single health behaviors rather than comparing effects across multiple behaviors. The present study addressed this gap in the literature by testing the relative contribution of autonomous and controlling motivation to the prediction of a large number of health-related behaviors, and examining individual differences in self-determined motivation as a moderator of the effects of autonomous and controlling motivation on health behavior. Participants were undergraduate students (N = 140) who completed measures of autonomous and controlled motivational regulations and behavioral intention for 20 health-related behaviors at an initial occasion with follow-up behavioral measures taken four weeks later. Path analysis was used to test a process model for each behavior in which motivational regulations predicted behavior mediated by intentions. Some minor idiosyncratic findings aside, between-participants analyses revealed significant effects for autonomous motivational regulations on intentions and behavior across the 20 behaviors. Effects for controlled motivation on intentions and behavior were relatively modest by comparison. Intentions mediated the effect of autonomous motivation on behavior. Within-participants analyses were used to segregate the sample into individuals who based their intentions on autonomous motivation (autonomy-oriented) and controlled motivation (control-oriented). Replicating the between-participants path analyses for the process model in the autonomy- and control-oriented samples did not alter the relative effects of the motivational orientations on intention and behavior. Results provide evidence for consistent effects of autonomous motivation on intentions and behavior across multiple health-related behaviors with little evidence of moderation by individual differences. Findings have implications for the generalizability of proposed effects in self-determination theory and intentions as a mediator of distal motivational factors on health-related behavior.
PMCID: PMC4346087  PMID: 25750803
self-determination theory; intentions; causality orientations; dispositional motivation; self-regulation
2.  Protection Motivation Theory in Predicting Intention to Engage in Protective Behaviors against Schistosomiasis among Middle School Students in Rural China 
Among millions of people who suffer from schistosomiasis in China, adolescents are at increased risk to be infected. However, there is a lack of theory-guided behavioral prevention intervention programs to protect these adolescents. This study attempted to apply the Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) in predicting intentions to engage in protective behaviors against schistosomiasis infection.
The participants were selected using the stratified cluster sampling method. Survey data were collected using anonymous self-reported questionnaire. The advanced structural equation modeling (SEM) method was utilized to assess the complex relationship among schistosomiasis knowledge, previous risk exposure and protective measures in predicting intentions to engage in protective behavior through the PMT constructs.
Principal Findings
Approximately 70% of participants reported they were always aware of schistosomiasis before exposure to water with endemic schistosomiasis, 6% of the participants reported frequency of weekly or monthly prior exposure to snail-conditioned water. 74% of participants reported having always engaged in protective behaviors in the past three months. Approximately 7% were unlikely or very unlikely to avoid contact with snail-conditioned water, and to use protective behaviors before exposure. Results from SEM analysis indicated that both schistosomiasis knowledge and prior exposure to schistosomiasis were indirectly related to behavior intentions through intrinsic rewards and self-efficacy; prior protective behaviors were indirectly related to behavior intentions through severity, intrinsic rewards and self-efficacy, while awareness had an indirect relationship with behavior intentions through self-efficacy. Among the seven PMT constructs, severity, intrinsic rewards and self-efficacy were significantly associated with behavior intentions.
The PMT can be used to predict the intention to engage in protective behaviors against schistosomiasis. Schistosomiasis intervention programs should focus on the severity, intrinsic rewards and self-efficacy of protection motivation, and also increase the awareness of infection, and enrich the contents of schistosomiasis education.
Author Summary
In China, millions of population suffer from schistosomiasis infection and adolescents tend to have higher infection rates than adults. The Knowledge-Attitude-Practice (KAP) Theory has traditionally been used as guidance to schistosomiasis prevention in China. However, despite increases in knowledge among residents in the epidemic areas due to KAP theory-based schistosomiasis health education, no significant reduction in water-contact behavior was evident. Therefore, it is of crucial importance to seek alternative health behavior change theories/models that are more effective than the KAP theory to promote purposeful behavioral change. The Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) as a social cognitive model may be an alternative to the KAP theory. In this study, we found that the PMT can be used to predict intention to engage in protective behaviors against schistosomiasis infection among middle school students in rural China. Based on the PMT, in addition to enhancing awareness of schistosomiasis infection, intervention programs should focus on the severity, intrinsic rewards and self-efficacy of protection motivation.
PMCID: PMC4199519  PMID: 25329829
3.  Determinants of responsibility for health, spiritual health and interpersonal relationship based on theory of planned behavior in high school girl students 
Background: Adolescence is a sensitive period of acquiring normal and abnormal habits for all oflife. The study investigates determinants of responsibility for health, spiritual health and interpersonal relations and predictive factors based on the theory of planned behavior in high school girl students in Tabriz.
Methods: In this Cross-sectional study, 340 students were selected thorough multi-stage sampling. An author-made questionnaire based on standard questionnaires of Health Promotion and Lifestyle II (HPLPII), spiritual health standards (Palutzian & Ellison) and components of the theory of planned behavior (attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, and behavioral intention) was used for data collection. The questionnaire was validated in a pilot study. Data were analyzed using SPSS v.15 and descriptive and analytical tests (Chi-square test, Pearson correlation co-efficient and liner regression test in backward method).
Results: Students’ responsibility for health, spiritual health, interpersonal relationships, and concepts of theory of planned behavior was moderate. We found a significant positive correlation (p<0/001) among all concepts of theory of planned behavior. Attitude and perceived behavioral control predicted 35% of intention of behavioral change (p<0.001). Attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control predicted 74% of behavioral change in accountability for health (p<0.0001), 56% for behavioral change in spiritual health (p<0.0001) and 63% for behavioral change in interpersonal relationship (p<0.0001).
Conclusion: Status of responsibility for health, spiritual health and interpersonal relationships of students was moderate. Hence, behavioral intention and its determinants such as perceived behavioral control should be noted in promoting intervention programs.
PMCID: PMC4476224  PMID: 26157722
Accountability in the health; Spiritual health; Interpersonal relationship; Theory of planned behavior; Girl students
4.  Impact of Education Based on Theory of Planned Behavior: An Investigation into Hypertension-Preventive Self-care Behaviors in Iranian Girl Adolescent 
Iranian Journal of Public Health  2015;44(6):839-847.
Since risk factors of hypertension are formed during adolescent period and regarding that attitudes change occurs more easily in these ages, the present paper aimed to evaluate the impact of education based on the theory of planned behavior in hypertension prevention behaviors in female adolescent students.
In this quasi-experimental study, 160 girls of 12–16 yr old (80 in each case and control group), who had not been educated in prevention of hypertension over the recent three months, participated. Four schools in Tehran were selected based on cluster sampling method during two stages. The education was provided based on the theory of planned behavior in two sections (nutrition and physical activity) in four sessions. Data gathered before and after education through a two-part valid and reliable questionnaire. The results were analyzed based on SPSS software, version 17.
The results of independent t-test showed in the nutrition section, attitude (P=0.000), subjective norm (P=0.025), perceived control (P=0.016) and behavioral intention (P=0.025); significantly increased. About physical activity, except subjective norm (P=0.219), the mean score of the attitude (P=0.001), perceived control (P=0.000) and behavioral intention (P=0.000) revealed a significant difference between two groups.
Education based on the theory of planned behavior affects the intention of preventive behaviors of hypertension in female adolescents.
PMCID: PMC4524309  PMID: 26258097
Health education; adolescent behavior; Hypertension; Theory of planned behavior
5.  Cardiovascular risk profile: Cross-sectional analysis of motivational determinants, physical fitness and physical activity 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:592.
Cardiovascular risk factors are associated with physical fitness and, to a lesser extent, physical activity. Lifestyle interventions directed at enhancing physical fitness in order to decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases should be extended. To enable the development of effective lifestyle interventions for people with cardiovascular risk factors, we investigated motivational, social-cognitive determinants derived from the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and other relevant social psychological theories, next to physical activity and physical fitness.
In the cross-sectional Utrecht Police Lifestyle Intervention Fitness and Training (UP-LIFT) study, 1298 employees (aged 18 to 62) were asked to complete online questionnaires regarding social-cognitive variables and physical activity. Cardiovascular risk factors and physical fitness (peak VO2) were measured.
For people with one or more cardiovascular risk factors (78.7% of the total population), social-cognitive variables accounted for 39% (p < .001) of the variance in the intention to engage in physical activity for 60 minutes every day. Important correlates of intention to engage in physical activity were attitude (beta = .225, p < .001), self-efficacy (beta = .271, p < .001), descriptive norm (beta = .172, p < .001) and barriers (beta = -.169, p < .01). Social-cognitive variables accounted for 52% (p < .001) of the variance in physical active behaviour (being physical active for 60 minutes every day). The intention to engage in physical activity (beta = .469, p < .001) and self-efficacy (beta = .243, p < .001) were, in turn, important correlates of physical active behavior.
In addition to the prediction of intention to engage in physical activity and physical active behavior, we explored the impact of the intensity of physical activity. The intentsity of physical activity was only significantly related to physical active behavior (beta = .253, p < .01, R2 = .06, p < .001). An important goal of our study was to investigate the relationship between physical fitness, the intensity of physical activity and social-cognitive variables. Physical fitness (R2 = .23, p < .001) was positively associated with physical active behavior (beta = .180, p < .01), self-efficacy (beta = .180, p < .01) and the intensity of physical activity (beta = .238, p < .01).
For people with one or more cardiovascular risk factors, 39.9% had positive intentions to engage in physical activity and were also physically active, and 10.5% had a low intentions but were physically active. 37.7% had low intentions and were physically inactive, and about 11.9% had high intentions but were physically inactive.
This study contributes to our ability to optimize cardiovascular risk profiles by demonstrating an important association between physical fitness and social-cognitive variables. Physical fitness can be predicted by physical active behavior as well as by self-efficacy and the intensity of physical activity, and the latter by physical active behavior.
Physical active behavior can be predicted by intention, self-efficacy, descriptive norms and barriers. Intention to engage in physical activity by attitude, self-efficacy, descriptive norms and barriers. An important input for lifestyle changes for people with one or more cardiovascular risk factors was that for ca. 40% of the population the intention to engage in physical activity was in line with their actual physical active behavior.
PMCID: PMC3091554  PMID: 20929529
6.  Prediction of Sport Adherence Through the Influence of Autonomy-Supportive Coaching Among Spanish Adolescent Athletes 
The purpose of this study was to test a motivational model of the coach-athlete relationship, based on self-determination theory and on the hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The sample comprised of 608 athletes (ages of 12-17 years) completed the following measures: interest in athlete's input, praise for autonomous behavior, perceived autonomy, intrinsic motivation, and the intention to be physically active. Structural equation modeling results demonstrated that interest in athletes' input and praise for autonomous behavior predicted perceived autonomy, and perceived autonomy positively predicted intrinsic motivation. Finally, intrinsic motivation predicted the intention to be physically active in the future. The results are discussed in relation to the importance of the climate of autonomy support created by the coach on intrinsic motivation and adherence to sport by adolescent athletes. Further, the results provide information related to the possible objectives of future interventions for the education of coaches, with the goal of providing them with tools and strategies to favor the development of intrinsic motivation among their athletes. In conclusion, the climate of autonomy support created by the coach can predict the autonomy perceived by the athletes which predicts the intrinsic motivation experienced by the athletes, and therefore, their adherence to athletic practice.
Key pointsImportance of the climate of autonomy support created by the coach on intrinsic motivation and adherence to sport by adolescent athletes.Interest in athletes' input and praise for autonomous behavior predicted perceived autonomy, and perceived autonomy positively predicted intrinsic motivation.Intrinsic motivation predicted the intention to be physically active in the future.
PMCID: PMC3737975  PMID: 24149380
Autonomy support; perceived autonomy; intrinsic motivation; sport adherence.
7.  Action planning as predictor of health protective and health risk behavior: an investigation of fruit and snack consumption 
Large discrepancies between people's intention to eat a healthy diet and actual dietary behavior indicate that motivation is not a sufficient instigator for healthy behavior. Research efforts to decrease this 'intention - behavior gap' have centered on aspects of self-regulation, most importantly self-regulatory planning. Most studies on the impact of self-regulatory planning in health and dietary behavior focus on the promotion of health protective behaviors. This study investigates and compares the predictive value of action planning in health protective behavior and the restriction of health risk behavior.
Two longitudinal observational studies were performed simultaneously, one focusing on fruit consumption (N = 572) and one on high-caloric snack consumption (N = 585) in Dutch adults. Structural equation modeling was used to investigate and compare the predictive value of action planning in both behaviors, correcting for demographics and the influence of motivational factors and past behavior. The nature of the influence of action planning was investigated by testing mediating and moderating effects.
Action planning was a significant predictor of fruit consumption and restricted snack consumption beyond the influence of motivational factors and past behavior. The strength of the predictive value of action planning did not differ between the two behaviors. Evidence for mediation of the intention - behavior relationship was found for both behaviors. Positive moderating effects of action planning were demonstrated for fruit consumption, indicating that individuals who report high levels of action planning are significantly more likely to translate their intentions into actual behavior.
The results indicate that the planning of specific preparatory actions predicts the performance of healthy dietary behavior and support the application of self-regulatory planning in both health protective and health risk behaviors. Future interventions in dietary modification may turn these findings to advantage by incorporating one common planning protocol to increase the likelihood that good intentions are translated into healthy dietary behavior.
PMCID: PMC2770554  PMID: 19825172
8.  Predicting active school travel: The role of planned behavior and habit strength 
Despite strong support for predictive validity of the theory of planned behavior (TPB) substantial variance in both intention and behavior is unaccounted for by the model’s predictors. The present study tested the extent to which habit strength augments the predictive validity of the TPB in relation to a currently under-researched behavior that has important health implications, namely children’s active school travel.
Participants (N = 126 children aged 8–9 years; 59 % males) were sampled from five elementary schools in the west of Scotland and completed questionnaire measures of all TPB constructs in relation to walking to school and both walking and car/bus use habit. Over the subsequent week, commuting steps on school journeys were measured objectively using an accelerometer. Hierarchical multiple regressions were used to test the predictive utility of the TPB and habit strength in relation to both intention and subsequent behavior.
The TPB accounted for 41 % and 10 % of the variance in intention and objectively measured behavior, respectively. Together, walking habit and car/bus habit significantly increased the proportion of explained variance in both intention and behavior by 6 %. Perceived behavioral control and both walking and car/bus habit independently predicted intention. Intention and car/bus habit independently predicted behavior.
The TPB significantly predicts children’s active school travel. However, habit strength augments the predictive validity of the model. The results indicate that school travel is controlled by both intentional and habitual processes. In practice, interventions could usefully decrease the habitual use of motorized transport for travel to school and increase children’s intention to walk (via increases in perceived behavioral control and walking habit, and decreases in car/bus habit). Further research is needed to identify effective strategies for changing these antecedents of children’s active school travel.
PMCID: PMC3419676  PMID: 22647194
Theory of planned behavior; Habit; Active school travel; Walking; Children
9.  Testing Theory of Planned Behavior and Neo-Socioanalytic Theory models of trait activity, industriousness, exercise social cognitions, exercise intentions, and physical activity in a representative U.S. sample 
Frontiers in Psychology  2015;6:1114.
Prior research identified assorted relations between trait and social cognition models of personality and engagement in physical activity. Using a representative U.S. sample (N = 957), the goal of the present study was to test two alternative structural models of the relationships among the extraversion-related facet of activity, the conscientiousness-related facet of industriousness, social cognitions from the Theory of Planned Behavior (perceived behavioral control, affective attitudes, subjective norms, intentions), Social Cognitive Theory (self-efficacy, outcome expectancies), and the Transtheoretical Model (behavioral processes of change), and engagement in physical activity. Path analyses with bootstrapping procedures were used to model direct and indirect effects of trait and social cognition constructs on physical activity through two distinct frameworks – the Theory of Planned Behavior and Neo-Socioanalytic Theory. While both models showed good internal fit, comparative model information criteria showed the Theory-of-Planned-Behavior-informed model provided a better fit. In the model, social cognitions fully mediated the relationships from the activity facet and industriousness to intentions for and engagement in physical activity, such that the relationships were primarily maintained by positive affective evaluations, positive expected outcomes, and confidence in overcoming barriers related to physical activity engagement. The resultant model – termed the Disposition-Belief-Motivation model– is proposed as a useful framework for organizing and integrating personality trait facets and social cognitions from various theoretical perspectives to investigate the expression of health-related behaviors, such as physical activity. Moreover, the results are discussed in terms of extending the application of the Disposition-Belief-Motivation model to longitudinal and intervention designs for physical activity engagement.
PMCID: PMC4526790  PMID: 26300811
personality; social cognition; Theory of Planned Behavior; Neo-Socioanalytic Theory; industriousness; trait activity; physical activity
10.  Tablet-Based Strength-Balance Training to Motivate and Improve Adherence to Exercise in Independently Living Older People: A Phase II Preclinical Exploratory Trial 
Reaction time, coordination, and cognition performance typically diminish in older adults, which may lead to gait impairments, falls, and injuries. Regular strength–balance exercises are highly recommended to reduce this problem and to improve health, well-being, and independence in old age. However, many older people face a lack of motivation in addition to other strong barriers to exercise. We developed ActiveLifestyle, an information technology (IT)-based system for active and healthy aging aiming at improving balance and strength. ActiveLifestyle is a training app that runs on a tablet and assists, monitors, and motivates older people to follow personalized training plans autonomously at home.
The objectives were to (1) investigate which IT-mediated motivation strategies increase adherence to physical exercise training plans in older people, (2) assess the impact of ActiveLifestyle on physical activity behavior change, and (3) demonstrate the effectiveness of the ActiveLifestyle training to improve gait speed.
A total of 44 older adults followed personalized, 12-week strength and balance training plans. All participants performed the exercises autonomously at home. Questionnaires were used to assess the technological familiarity and stage of behavior change, as well as the effectiveness of the motivation instruments adopted by ActiveLifestyle. Adherence to the exercise plan was evaluated using performance data collected by the app and through information given by the participants during the study. Pretests and posttests were performed to evaluate gait speed of the participants before and after the study.
Participants were 75 years (SD 6), predominantly female (64%), held a trade or professional diploma (54%), and their past profession was in a sitting position (43%). Of the 44 participants who enrolled, 33 (75%) completed the study. The app proved to assist and motivate independently living and healthy older adults to autonomously perform strength–balance exercises (median 6 on a 7-point Likert scale). Social motivation strategies proved more effective than individual strategies to stimulate the participants to comply with the training plan, as well as to change their behavior permanently toward a more physically active lifestyle. The exercises were effective to improve preferred and fast gait speed.
ActiveLifestyle assisted and motivated independently living and healthy older people to autonomously perform strength–balance exercises over 12 weeks and had low dropout rates. The social motivation strategies were more effective to stimulate the participants to comply with the training plan and remain on the intervention. The adoption of assistive technology devices for physical intervention tends to motivate and retain older people exercising for longer periods of time.
PMCID: PMC3742406  PMID: 23939401
motivation; exercises; aged; tablet; mobility; delivery of health care
11.  Adolescents demonstrate improvement in obesity risk behaviors following completion of Choice, Control, and Change, a curriculum addressing personal agency and autonomous motivation 
The rapid increase of obesity and diabetes risk beginning in youth, particularly those from disadvantaged communities, calls for prevention efforts.
To examine the impact of a curriculum intervention, Choice, Control, and Change (C3), on the adoption of the energy balance related behaviors of decreasing sweetened drinks, packaged snacks, fast food, and leisure screen time, and increasing water, fruits and vegetables, and physical activity, and on potential psychosocial mediators of the behaviors.
Ten middle schools in low-income New York City neighborhoods were randomly assigned within matched pairs to either intervention or comparison/ delayed control conditions during the 2007–2008 school year.
562 inner city seventh grade students in the intervention condition, and 574 in the comparison condition.
Students received the 24 C3 lessons that used science inquiry-based investigations to enhance motivation for action, and social cognitive and self-determination theories to increase personal agency and autonomous motivation to take action.
Main outcome measures
Self-report instruments to measure energy balance related behaviors targeted by the curriculum, and potential psychosocial mediators of the behaviors.
ANCOVA with group (intervention/control) as a fixed factor and pre-test as covariate.
Students in intervention schools compared to the delayed intervention controls reported consumption of significantly fewer sweetened drinks and packaged snacks, smaller sizes of fast food, increased intentional walking for exercise, and decreased leisure screen-time, but showed no increases in their intakes of water, fruits, and vegetables. They showed significant increases in positive outcome expectations about the behaviors, self-efficacy, goal intentions, competence, and autonomy.
The C3 curriculum was effective in improving many of the specifically targeted behaviors related to reducing obesity risk, indicating that combining inquiry-based science education and behavioral theory is a promising approach.
PMCID: PMC3016947  PMID: 21111093
12.  A brief intervention to improve exercising in patients with schizophrenia: a controlled pilot study with mental contrasting and implementation intentions (MCII) 
BMC Psychiatry  2015;15:211.
Regular exercise can have positive effects on both the physical and mental health of individuals with schizophrenia. However, deficits in cognition, perception, affect, and volition make it especially difficult for people with schizophrenia to plan and follow through with their exercising intentions, as indicated by poor attendance and high drop-out rates in prior studies. Mental Contrasting and Implementation Intentions (MCII) is a well-established strategy to support the enactment of intended actions. This pilot study tests whether MCII helps people with schizophrenia in highly structured or autonomy-focused clinical hospital settings to translate their exercising intentions into action.
Thirty-six inpatients (eleven women) with a mean age of 30.89 years (SD = 11.41) diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum disorders from specialized highly structured or autonomy-focused wards were randomly assigned to two intervention groups. In the equal contact goal intention control condition, patients read an informative text about physical activity; they then set and wrote down the goal to attend jogging sessions. In the MCII experimental condition, patients read the same informative text and then worked through the MCII strategy. We hypothesized that MCII would increase attendance and persistence relative to the control condition over the course of four weeks and this will be especially be the case when applied in an autonomy-focused setting compared to when applied in a highly structured setting.
When applied in autonomy-focused settings, MCII increased attendance and persistence in jogging group sessions relative to the control condition. In the highly structured setting, no differences between conditions were found, most likely due to a ceiling effect. These results remained even when adjusting for group differences in the pre-intervention scores for the control variables depression (BDI), physical activity (IPAQ), weight (BMI), age, and education. Whereas commitment and physical activity apart from the jogging sessions remained stable over the course of the treatment, depression and negative symptoms were reduced. There were no differences in pre-post treatment changes between intervention groups.
The intervention in the present study provides initial support for the hypothesis that MCII helps patients to translate their exercising intentions into real-life behavior even in autonomously-focused settings without social control.
Trial registration ID; URL: NCT01547026 Registered 3 March 2012.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12888-015-0513-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4557227  PMID: 26335438
Exercise; Implementation intentions; Mental contrasting; Physical activity; Schizophrenia; Self-regulation
13.  A cluster randomised controlled trial of an intervention to promote healthy lifestyle habits to school leavers: study rationale, design, and methods 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:221.
Physical inactivity and a poor diet predict lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. Marked declines in physical activity occur during late adolescence, coinciding with the point at which many young people leave school and enter the workforce and begin to take greater control over their lifestyle behaviours. The work outlined within this paper sought to test a theoretically-informed intervention aimed at supporting increased engagement in physical activity and healthy eating habits in young people at the point of transition from school to work or work-based learning. As actively engaging young people in initiatives based on health messages is challenging, we also tested the efficacy of financial incentives in promoting initial engagement with the programme.
A three-arm cluster-randomised design was used. Participants were school pupils from Year 11 and 13 (i.e., in their final year of study), aged 16–18 years. To reduce contamination effects, the unit of randomisation was school. Participants were randomly allocated to receive (i) a 12-week behavioural support intervention consisting of six appointments, (ii) a behavioural support intervention plus incentives (totalling £40), or (iii) an information-only control group. Behavioural support was provided by fitness advisors at local leisure centres following an initial consultation with a dietician. Sessions focused on promoting habit formation through setting implementation intentions as part of an incremental goal setting process. Consistent with self-determination theory, all advisors were trained to provide guidance in an autonomy-supportive manner so that they were equipped to create a social context supportive of autonomous forms of participant motivation. The primary outcome was objectively assessed physical activity (via GT1M accelerometers). Secondary outcome measures were diet, motivation and habit strength. Data were collected at baseline, post-intervention (12 weeks) and 12 months.
Findings of this trial will provide valuable insight into the feasibility of promoting autonomous engagement in healthy physical activity and dietary habits among school leavers. The research also provides much needed data and detailed information related to the use of incentives for the initial promotion of young peoples’ behaviour change during this important transition.
Trial registration
The trial is registered as Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN55839517.
PMCID: PMC3944885  PMID: 24592967
Motivation; Physical activity; Diet; Health; Well-being; Habit; Communication; Self-determination theory; Adolescent; Modifiable risk factors
14.  Factors influencing fast food consumption behaviors of middle-school students in Seoul: an application of theory of planned behaviors 
Nutrition Research and Practice  2011;5(2):169-178.
Fast food is popular among children and adolescents; however, its consumption has often been associated with negative impacts on nutrition and health. This study examined current fast food consumption status among middle school students and explored factors influencing fast food consumption by applying Theory of Planned Behavior. A total of 354 (52.5% boys) students were recruited from a middle school. The subjects completed a pre-tested questionnaire. The average monthly frequency of fast food consumption was 4.05 (4.25 for boys, 3.83 for girls). As expected, fast food consumption was considered to be a special event rather than part of an everyday diet, closely associated with meeting friends or celebrating, most likely with friends, special days. The Theory of Planned Behavior effectively explained fast food consumption behaviors with relatively high R2 around 0.6. Multiple regression analyses showed that fast food consumption behavior was significantly related to behavioral intention (b = 0.61, P < 0.001) and perceived behavioral control (b = 0.19, P < 0.001). Further analysis showed that behavioral intention was significantly related to subjective norm (b = 0.15, P < 0.01) and perceived behavioral control (b = 0.56, P < 0.001). Attitude toward fast food consumption was not significantly associated with behavioral intention. Therefore, effective nutrition education programs on fast food consumption should include components to change the subjective norms of fast food consumption, especially among peers, and perceived behavioral control. Further studies should examine effective ways of changing subjective norms and possible alternatives to fast food consumption for students to alter perceived behavioral control.
PMCID: PMC3085807  PMID: 21556232
Fast food consumption; middle school students; theory of planned behavior
15.  Successful behavior change in obesity interventions in adults: a systematic review of self-regulation mediators 
BMC Medicine  2015;13:84.
Relapse is high in lifestyle obesity interventions involving behavior and weight change. Identifying mediators of successful outcomes in these interventions is critical to improve effectiveness and to guide approaches to obesity treatment, including resource allocation. This article reviews the most consistent self-regulation mediators of medium- and long-term weight control, physical activity, and dietary intake in clinical and community behavior change interventions targeting overweight/obese adults.
A comprehensive search of peer-reviewed articles, published since 2000, was conducted on electronic databases (for example, MEDLINE) and journal reference lists. Experimental studies were eligible if they reported intervention effects on hypothesized mediators (self-regulatory and psychological mechanisms) and the association between these and the outcomes of interest (weight change, physical activity, and dietary intake). Quality and content of selected studies were analyzed and findings summarized. Studies with formal mediation analyses were reported separately.
Thirty-five studies were included testing 42 putative mediators. Ten studies used formal mediation analyses. Twenty-eight studies were randomized controlled trials, mainly aiming at weight loss or maintenance (n = 21). Targeted participants were obese (n = 26) or overweight individuals, aged between 25 to 44 years (n = 23), and 13 studies targeted women only. In terms of study quality, 13 trials were rated as “strong”, 15 as “moderate”, and 7 studies as “weak”. In addition, methodological quality of formal mediation analyses was “medium”. Identified mediators for medium-/long-term weight control were higher levels of autonomous motivation, self-efficacy/barriers, self-regulation skills (such as self-monitoring), flexible eating restraint, and positive body image. For physical activity, significant putative mediators were high autonomous motivation, self-efficacy, and use of self-regulation skills. For dietary intake, the evidence was much less clear, and no consistent mediators were identified.
This is the first systematic review of mediational psychological mechanisms of successful outcomes in obesity-related lifestyle change interventions. Despite limited evidence, higher autonomous motivation, self-efficacy, and self-regulation skills emerged as the best predictors of beneficial weight and physical activity outcomes; for weight control, positive body image and flexible eating restraint may additionally improve outcomes. These variables represent possible targets for future lifestyle interventions in overweight/obese populations.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0323-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4408562  PMID: 25907778
Lifestyle interventions; Obesity; Self-regulation; Weight control; Physical activity; Dietary intake; Maintenance; Behavior change; Mediation analysis
16.  The Role of Companionship, Esteem, and Informational Support In Explaining Physical Activity Among Young Women In an Online Social Network Intervention 
Journal of behavioral medicine  2013;37(5):955-966.
The primary objective of the current study was to examine the relationship between social support and physical activity within the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) theoretical framework. This study used data from the Internet Support for Healthy Associations Promoting Exercise randomized controlled trial. A total of 134 female undergraduate students participated in the study, which included baseline and post measures of perceived social support for physical activity (esteem, informational, and companionship), TPB variables related to physical activity (perceived behavioral control, intention, and attitude), and physical activity behavior. Path analysis revealed a significant indirect relationship between change in companionship support and physical activity mediated by change in intention (.13, p<.01) and a significant direct relationship between change in esteem support and change in physical activity (.26, p=.03). The model explained 27% of the variance in physical activity and 59% of the variance in intention. Overall, change in social support exerted a small to medium amount of influence on change in physical activity in this modified TPB model when controlling for traditional model constructs. Encouraging companionship and esteem support should be considered as a strategy for increasing physical activity in this population.
PMCID: PMC3972383  PMID: 24081454
social support; physical activity; health behavior; behavior change; theory of planned behavior
17.  Explaining clinical behaviors using multiple theoretical models 
In the field of implementation research, there is an increased interest in use of theory when designing implementation research studies involving behavior change. In 2003, we initiated a series of five studies to establish a scientific rationale for interventions to translate research findings into clinical practice by exploring the performance of a number of different, commonly used, overlapping behavioral theories and models. We reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the methods, the performance of the theories, and consider where these methods sit alongside the range of methods for studying healthcare professional behavior change.
These were five studies of the theory-based cognitions and clinical behaviors (taking dental radiographs, performing dental restorations, placing fissure sealants, managing upper respiratory tract infections without prescribing antibiotics, managing low back pain without ordering lumbar spine x-rays) of random samples of primary care dentists and physicians. Measures were derived for the explanatory theoretical constructs in the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), and Illness Representations specified by the Common Sense Self Regulation Model (CSSRM). We constructed self-report measures of two constructs from Learning Theory (LT), a measure of Implementation Intentions (II), and the Precaution Adoption Process. We collected data on theory-based cognitions (explanatory measures) and two interim outcome measures (stated behavioral intention and simulated behavior) by postal questionnaire survey during the 12-month period to which objective measures of behavior (collected from routine administrative sources) were related. Planned analyses explored the predictive value of theories in explaining variance in intention, behavioral simulation and behavior.
Response rates across the five surveys ranged from 21% to 48%; we achieved the target sample size for three of the five surveys. For the predictor variables, the mean construct scores were above the mid-point on the scale with median values across the five behaviors generally being above four out of seven and the range being from 1.53 to 6.01. Across all of the theories, the highest proportion of the variance explained was always for intention and the lowest was for behavior. The Knowledge-Attitudes-Behavior Model performed poorly across all behaviors and dependent variables; CSSRM also performed poorly. For TPB, SCT, II, and LT across the five behaviors, we predicted median R2 of 25% to 42.6% for intention, 6.2% to 16% for behavioral simulation, and 2.4% to 6.3% for behavior.
We operationalized multiple theories measuring across five behaviors. Continuing challenges that emerge from our work are: better specification of behaviors, better operationalization of theories; how best to appropriately extend the range of theories; further assessment of the value of theories in different settings and groups; exploring the implications of these methods for the management of chronic diseases; and moving to experimental designs to allow an understanding of behavior change.
PMCID: PMC3500222  PMID: 23075284
18.  Click “Like” to Change Your Behavior: A Mixed Methods Study of College Students’ Exposure to and Engagement With Facebook Content Designed for Weight Loss 
Overweight or obesity is prevalent among college students and many gain weight during this time. Traditional face-to-face weight loss interventions have not worked well in this population. Facebook is an attractive tool for delivering weight loss interventions for college students because of its popularity, potential to deliver strategies found in successful weight loss interventions, and ability to support ongoing adaptation of intervention content.
The objective of this study was to describe participant exposure to a Facebook page designed to deliver content to overweight/obese college students in a weight loss randomized controlled trial (N=404) and examine participant engagement with behavior change campaigns for weight loss delivered via Facebook.
The basis of the intervention campaign model were 5 self-regulatory techniques: intention formation, action planning, feedback, goal review, and self-monitoring. Participants were encouraged to engage their existing social network to meet their weight loss goals. A health coach moderated the page and modified content based on usage patterns and user feedback. Quantitative analyses were conducted at the Facebook post- and participant-level of analysis. Participant engagement was quantified by Facebook post type (eg, status update) and interaction (eg, like) and stratified by weight loss campaign (sequenced vs nonsequenced). A subset of participants were interviewed to evaluate the presence of passive online engagement or “lurking.”
The health coach posted 1816 unique messages to the study’s Facebook page over 21 months, averaging 3.45 posts per day (SD 1.96, range 1-13). In all, 72.96% (1325/1816) of the posts were interacted with at least once (eg, liked). Of these, approximately 24.75% (328/1325) had 1-2 interactions, 23.39% (310/1325) had 3-5 interactions, 25.13% (333/1325) had 6-8 interactions, and 41 posts had 20 or more interactions (3.09%, 41/1325). There was significant variability among quantifiable (ie, visible) engagement. Of 199 participants in the final intervention sample, 32 (16.1%) were highly active users and 62 (31.2%) never visibly engaged with the intervention on Facebook. Polls were the most popular type of post followed by photos, with 97.5% (79/81) and 80.3% (386/481) interacted with at least once. Participants visibly engaged less with posts over time (partial r=–.33; P<.001). Approximately 40% of the participants interviewed (12/29, 41%) reported passively engaging with the Facebook posts by reading but not visibly interacting with them.
Facebook can be used to remotely deliver weight loss intervention content to college students with the help of a health coach who can iteratively tailor content and interact with participants. However, visible engagement with the study’s Facebook page was highly variable and declined over time. Whether the level of observed engagement is meaningful in terms of influencing changes in weight behaviors and outcomes will be evaluated at the completion of the overall study.
PMCID: PMC4090380  PMID: 24964294
overweight; obesity; students; social networking; behavior; social behavior
19.  Self-determined motivation towards physical activity in adolescents treated for obesity: an observational study 
Within the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) framework, the first major study aim was to investigate the SDT tenets in an obese adolescent population by examining the factor structure of the Behavioural Regulation in Exercise Questionnaire-2 (BREQ-2) and by investigating associations between physical activity (PA) and motivation in obese adolescents. The second aim was to study differences in motivation according to adolescents' educational level, since lower educated obese adolescent are a sub-risk group for lower PA levels among the obese adolescents. The third aim was to investigate whether attending a residential obesity treatment program could lead to an increase in autonomous motivation towards PA and to see if the treatment effect on motivation was different in low versus high educated youth.
For the first study aim, the sample comprised 177 obese adolescents at the start of a 10-month multidisciplinary residential obesity treatment program (BMI = 35.9 ± 6.0 kg/m2, 15.1 ± 1.5 years, 62% girls). A subsample of 65 adolescents (stratified by educational level) were divided into low (n = 34) versus high educated (n = 31) as part of the second and third study aim. Motivation was assessed using the BREQ-2 and PA using the Flemish Physical Activity Questionnaire.
Exploratory factor analysis showed sufficient validations with the original factor for 17 out of 19 BREQ-2 items. Significant positive correlations were found between PA and the composite score of relative autonomy (r = 0.31, p < 0.001), introjected (r = 0.23, p < 0.01), identified (r = 0.31, p < 0.001) and intrinsic regulation (r = 0.38, p < 0.001). Higher educated adolescents scored higher on the composite score of relative autonomy, introjected, identified and intrinsic regulation at the start of treatment (F = 3.68, p < 0.001). The composite score of relative autonomy, external, identified and intrinsic regulation significantly increased during treatment for all adolescents (F = 6.65, p < 0.001). Introjected regulation significantly increased for lower educated adolescents (F = 25.57, p < 0.001).
The BREQ-2 can be used in an obese adolescent population. Higher levels of autonomous motivation towards PA were related to higher PA levels. Adolescents had increases in both autonomous and controlled forms of motivation during treatment. Special attention for lower educated adolescents during treatment is needed, as they have a lower autonomous motivation at the start of treatment and an increase in introjected regulation during treatment.
PMCID: PMC3189862  PMID: 21923955
20.  Determinants of Fast Food Consumption among Iranian High School Students Based on Planned Behavior Theory 
Journal of Obesity  2013;2013:147589.
Objective. This study was conducted to identify some factors (beliefs and norms) which are related to fast food consumption among high school students in Isfahan, Iran. We used the framework of the theory planned behavior (TPB) to predict this behavior. Subjects & Methods. Cross-sectional data were available from high school students (n = 521) who were recruited by cluster randomized sampling. All of the students completed a questionnaire assessing variables of standard TPB model including attitude, subjective norms, perceived behavior control (PBC), and the additional variables past behavior, actual behavior control (ABC). Results. The TPB variables explained 25.7% of the variance in intentions with positive attitude as the strongest (β = 0.31, P < 0.001) and subjective norms as the weakest (β = 0.29, P < 0.001) determinant. Concurrently, intentions accounted for 6% of the variance for fast food consumption. Past behavior and ABC accounted for an additional amount of 20.4% of the variance in fast food consumption. Conclusion. Overall, the present study suggests that the TPB model is useful in predicting related beliefs and norms to the fast food consumption among adolescents. Subjective norms in TPB model and past behavior in TPB model with additional variables (past behavior and actual behavior control) were the most powerful predictors of fast food consumption. Therefore, TPB model may be a useful framework for planning intervention programs to reduce fast food consumption by students.
PMCID: PMC3723084  PMID: 23936635
21.  Prediction of leisure-time walking: an integration of social cognitive, perceived environmental, and personality factors 
Walking is the primary focus of population-based physical activity initiatives but a theoretical understanding of this behaviour is still elusive. The purpose of this study was to integrate personality, the perceived environment, and planning into a theory of planned behaviour (TPB) framework to predict leisure-time walking.
Participants were a random sample (N = 358) of Canadian adults who completed measures of the TPB, planning, perceived neighbourhood environment, and personality at Time 1 and self-reported walking behaviour two months later.
Analyses using structural equation modelling provided evidence that leisure-time walking is largely predicted by intention (standardized effect = .42) with an additional independent contribution from proximity to neighbourhood retail shops (standardized effect = .18). Intention, in turn, was predicted by attitudes toward walking and perceived behavioural control. Effects of perceived neighbourhood aesthetics and walking infrastructure on walking were mediated through attitudes and intention. Moderated regression analysis showed that the intention-walking relationship was moderated by conscientiousness and proximity to neighbourhood recreation facilities but not planning.
Overall, walking behaviour is theoretically complex but may best be addressed at a population level by facilitating strong intentions in a receptive environment even though individual differences may persist.
PMCID: PMC2174941  PMID: 17974022
22.  Efficacy of a Computerized Simulation in Promoting Walking in Individuals With Diabetes 
Regular walking is a recommended but underused self-management strategy for individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
To test the impact of a simulation-based intervention on the beliefs, intentions, knowledge, and walking behavior of individuals with T2DM. We compared two versions of a brief narrated simulation. The experimental manipulation included two components: the presentation of the expected effect of walking on the glucose curve; and the completion of an action plan for walking over the next week. Primary hypotheses were (1) intervention participants’ walking (minutes/week) would increase more than control participants’ walking, and (2) change in outcome expectancies (beliefs) would be a function of the discrepancy between prior beliefs and those presented in the simulation. Secondary hypotheses were that, overall, behavioral intentions to walk in the coming week and diabetes-related knowledge would increase in both groups.
Individuals were randomly assigned to condition. Preintervention measures included self-reported physical activity (International Physical Activity Questionnaire [IPAQ] 7-day), theory of planned behavior-related beliefs, and knowledge (Diabetes Knowledge Test). During the narrated simulation we measured individuals’ outcome expectancies regarding the effect of exercise on glucose with a novel drawing task. Postsimulation measures included theory of planned behavior beliefs, knowledge, and qualitative impressions of the narrated simulation. The IPAQ 7-day was readministered by phone 1 week later. We used a linear model that accounted for baseline walking to test the main hypothesis regarding walking. Discrepancy scores were calculated between the presented outcome and individuals’ prior expectations (measured by the drawing task). A linear model with an interaction between intervention status and the discrepancy score was used to test the hypothesis regarding change in outcome expectancy. Pre–post changes in intention and knowledge were tested using paired t tests.
Of 65 participants, 33 were in the intervention group and 32 in the control group. We excluded 2 participants from analysis due to being extreme outliers in baseline walking. After adjustment for baseline difference in age and intentions between groups, intervention participants increased walking by 61.0 minutes/week (SE 30.5, t 58 = 1.9, P = .05) more than controls. The proposed interaction between the presented outcome and the individual’s prior beliefs was supported: after adjustment for baseline differences in age and intentions between groups, the coefficient for the interaction was –.25, (SE 0.07, t 57 = –3.2, P < .01). On average participants in both groups improved significantly from baseline in intentions (mean difference 0.66, t 62 = 4.5, P < .001) and knowledge (mean difference 0.38, t 62 = 2.4, P = .02).
This study suggests that a brief, Internet-ready, simulation-based intervention can improve knowledge, beliefs, intentions, and short-term behavior in individuals with T2DM.
PMCID: PMC3799542  PMID: 22576226
Computer simulation; type 2 diabetes mellitus; physical activity; blood glucose
23.  What works in school-based energy balance behaviour interventions and what does not? A systematic review of mediating mechanisms 
Obesity prevention requires effective interventions targeting the so-called energy balance-related behaviours (that is, physical activity, sedentary and dietary behaviours). To improve (cost-)effectiveness of these interventions, one needs to know the working mechanisms underlying behavioural change. Mediation analyses evaluates whether an intervention works via hypothesised working mechanisms. Identifying mediators can prompt intervention developers to strengthen effective intervention components and remove/adapt ineffective components. This systematic review aims to identify psychosocial and environmental mediators of energy balance-related behaviours interventions for youth.
Studies were identified by a systematic search of electronic databases (Pubmed, Embase, PsycINFO, ERIC and SPORTDiscus). Studies were included if they (1) were school-based randomised controlled or quasi-experimental studies; (2) targeted energy balance behaviours; (3) conducted among children and adolescents (4–18 years of age); (4) written in English; and (5) conducted mediation analyses.
A total of 24 studies were included. We found strong evidence for self-efficacy and moderate evidence for intention as mediators of physical activity interventions. Indications were found for attitude, knowledge and habit strength to be mediators of dietary behaviour interventions. The few sedentary behaviour interventions reporting on mediating effects prevented us from forming strong conclusions regarding mediators of sedentary behaviour interventions. The majority of interventions failed to significantly change hypothesised mediators because of ineffective intervention strategies, low power and/or use of insensitive measures.
Despite its importance, few studies published results of mediation analysis, and more high-quality research into relevant mediators is necessary. On the basis of the limited number of published studies, self-efficacy and intention appear to be relevant mediators for physical activity interventions. Future intervention developers are advised to provide information on the theoretical base of their intervention including the strategies applied to provide insight into which strategies are effective in changing relevant mediators. In addition, future research is advised to focus on the development, validity, reliability and sensitivity of mediator measures.
PMCID: PMC3191379  PMID: 21487398
mediator; physical activity; diet; intervention; sedentary behaviour; youth
24.  Creating action plans in a serious video game increases and maintains child fruit-vegetable intake: a randomized controlled trial 
Child fruit and vegetable intake is below recommended levels, increasing risk for chronic disease. Interventions to influence fruit and vegetable intake among youth have had mixed effects. Innovative, theory-driven interventions are needed. Goal setting, enhanced by implementation intentions (i.e., plans tightly connected to a behavioral goal), may offer a solution. Action plans state “how” a goal will be achieved, while coping plans identify a potential barrier and corresponding solution. The research reported here evaluated the short- and long-term effects of goal setting enhanced with implementation intentions on child fruit and vegetable intake in a 10-episode, theoretically-grounded serious videogame promoting fruit and vegetables. This is one of the first studies to test the efficacy of implementation intentions on the dietary intake of healthy children.
A four-group randomized design with three data collection periods (baseline, immediate post-intervention, 3 months post-intervention) was employed. Groups varied on whether children created an implementation intention (none, action, coping, both) as part of goal setting. Participants were 4th and 5th grade children (~9-11 years old) and one parent. An a priori power analysis indicated this would provide >80% power to detect a small effect (Cohen’s d = 0.17). Children played a 10-episode online videogame; parents received 10 electronic newsletters and access to a parent-only website. The primary outcome was child fruit and vegetable intake, assessed via three, dietitian-assisted telephone recalls at each data collection period. The primary analysis was conducted using a repeated measures analysis of covariance with a mixed model procedure. Secondary analyses examined intervention effects on fruit and vegetables separately.
Four hundred parent/child dyads were recruited. A significant group-by-time interaction for fruit and vegetable intake (p < 0.001) was found in only the Action group, which had significant increases in fruit and vegetable intake at post 1 (p < 0.0001) and post 2 (p < 0.0001). No other significant interactions were observed; however, there were significant time effects for fruit (p < 0.0001).
Action intentions may be an important component of successful interventions to increase and maintain fruit and vegetable intake in pre-adolescent children. Videogames promoting healthy diets offer an effective vehicle for delivering behavior change interventions to children.
Trial registration NCT01004094.
PMCID: PMC4372224  PMID: 25890060
Videogame; Fruit; Vegetables; Children; Implementation intentions; Maintenance
25.  A Primary Care Nurse-Delivered Walking Intervention in Older Adults: PACE (Pedometer Accelerometer Consultation Evaluation)-Lift Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(2):e1001783.
Brisk walking in older people can increase step-counts and moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) in ≥10-minute bouts, as advised in World Health Organization guidelines. Previous interventions have reported step-count increases, but not change in objectively measured MVPA in older people. We assessed whether a primary care nurse-delivered complex intervention increased objectively measured step-counts and MVPA.
Methods and Findings
A total of 988 60–75 year olds, able to increase walking and randomly selected from three UK family practices, were invited to participate in a parallel two-arm cluster randomised trial; randomisation was by household. Two-hundred-ninety-eight people from 250 households were randomised between 2011 and 2012; 150 individuals to the intervention group, 148 to the usual care control group. Intervention participants received four primary care nurse physical activity (PA) consultations over 3 months, incorporating behaviour change techniques, pedometer step-count and accelerometer PA intensity feedback, and an individual PA diary and plan. Assessors were not blinded to group status, but statistical analyses were conducted blind. The primary outcome was change in accelerometry assessed average daily step-counts between baseline and 3 months, with change at 12 months a secondary outcome. Other secondary outcomes were change from baseline in time in MVPA weekly in ≥10-minute bouts, accelerometer counts, and counts/minute at 3 months and 12 months. Other outcomes were adverse events, anthropometric measures, mood, and pain. Qualitative evaluations of intervention participants and practice nurses assessed the intervention’s acceptability. At 3 months, eight participants had withdrawn or were lost to follow-up, 280 (94%) individuals provided primary outcome data. At 3 months changes in both average daily step-counts and weekly MVPA in ≥10-minute bouts were significantly higher in the intervention than control group: by 1,037 (95% CI 513–1,560) steps/day and 63 (95% CI 40–87) minutes/week, respectively. At 12 months corresponding differences were 609 (95% CI 104–1,115) steps/day and 40 (95% CI 17–63) minutes/week. Counts and counts/minute showed similar effects to steps and MVPA. Adverse events, anthropometry, mood, and pain were similar in the two groups. Participants and practice nurses found the intervention acceptable and enjoyable.
The PACE-Lift trial increased both step-counts and objectively measured MVPA in ≥10-minute bouts in 60–75 year olds at 3 and 12 months, with no effect on adverse events. To our knowledge, this is the first trial in this age group to demonstrate objective MVPA increases and highlights the value of individualised support incorporating objective PA assessment in a primary care setting.
Trial Registration ISRCTN42122561
In this cluster randomized controlled trial, Tess Harris and colleagues investigate whether a program delivered by primary care nurses to older adults can increase bouts of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
Editors’ Summary
Worldwide, people are becoming increasingly sedentary. They are sitting at desks instead of doing manual labor; they are driving to work instead of walking; and they are participating in fewer leisure time physical activities. But the human body needs regular exercise to stay healthy. Physical activity helps to maintain a healthy weight and prevents or delays heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Moreover, physically active people feel better and live longer than physically inactive people. The World Health Organization recommends that adults should be active daily and should do at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) every week in bouts that each last at least 10 minutes. Moderate-intensity physical activities (for example, brisk walking) require a moderate amount of effort and noticeably increase the heart rate; vigorous-intensity physical activities (for example, running) require a large amount of effort and cause rapid breathing and a substantial heart rate increase.
Why Was This Study Done?
When physical activity is objectively measured using an accelerometer (a movement monitor that is usually worn on the waist; unlike pedometers, which simply count the number of steps a person takes, accelerometers record both step-counts and the intensity of physical activity), fewer than 5% of older people achieve the recommended weekly levels of MVPA. These levels could be reached by taking regular brisk walks but how can older people be persuaded to make such walks part of their daily lives? In this cluster randomized controlled trial—the PACE (Pedometer Accelerometer Consultation Evaluation)-Lift trial—the researchers assess whether an intervention to increase walking comprising pedometer and accelerometer feedback combined with physical activity consultations provided by practice nurses can lead to sustained increases in physical activity in 60–75 year olds. Cluster randomized trials compare outcomes in groups of people (here, husbands and wives living in one household) assigned through the play of chance to receive a test or a control intervention.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assigned 298 people from 250 households to receive the intervention or usual care and determined the participants’ physical activity at baseline, 3 months, and 12 months by asking them to wear an accelerometer for 7 days. Intervention group participants received four physical activity consultations with a primary care nurse over 3 months. At the first consultation, the nurse gave each participant a pedometer to measure step-counts, a physical activity diary in which to record their goals and progress, and the PACE-Lift patient handbook. At each consultation, the nurse used behavior change techniques (for example, goal setting) to encourage the participant to walk regularly, gave the participant visual feedback from their accelerometer readings, and devised a personal walking plan. Control group participants received normal care only from the practice. At 3 months and 12 months, both the average daily step-count and the weekly MVPA level had decreased from baseline in the control group but increased in the intervention group. At 3 months, compared to the control group, the average step-count in the intervention group was 1,037 steps/day higher and the MVPA in bouts of more than 10 minutes in the intervention group was 63 minutes/week higher. At 12 months, the corresponding differences were 609 steps/day and 40 minutes/week. There were no significant differences in adverse events (for example, pain), body fat, or other measured health-related outcomes between the groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the complex intervention tested in the PACE-Lift trial increased both step-counts and objectively measured MPVA among 60–75 year olds for at least 12 months. Importantly, all the participants and practice nurses were positive and enthusiastic about the intervention. Moreover, the observed increase in physical activity is estimated to reduce the participants’ risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes by an estimated 5.5% and 9.1%, respectively. Further trials are needed to determine which aspects of the intervention were responsible for increasing physical activity, to determine whether the intervention’s effects will persist for longer than 12 months, and to test the intervention in socio-economically diverse populations (all the PACE-Lift participants came from an affluent, non-ethnically diverse area). However, these findings highlight the value of family practices providing older individuals with individualized support that incorporates objective assessment of physical activity to help them become more physically active.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of healthy living; its Physical Activity for Everyone web pages include guidelines for older people, instructional videos, and personal success stories (some information in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization provides information about physical activity and health (in several languages); its Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health are available in several languages
The UK National Health Service information source Choices explains the benefits of regular physical activity, provides recommendations for older people, and includes tips for exercising and some personal stories
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about exercise and physical fitness (in English and Spanish)
More information about the PACE-Lift trial protocol is available
PMCID: PMC4331517  PMID: 25689364

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