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Assessing user engagement in a health promotion website using social networking.

Author information

1
School of Computing Engineering & Mathematics, Telehealth Research & Innovation Laboratory, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
2
Centre for Physical Activity Studies, School for Human Health and Social Science, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Australia.
3
School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
4
School of Health and Exercise Science, University of British Columbia, Canada.
5
Department of Human Nutrition, Kansas State University, United States of America.

Abstract

Remote provision of supportive mechanisms for preventive health is a fast-growing area in eHealth. Web-based interventions have been suggested as an effective way to increase adoption and maintenance of healthy lifestyle behaviours. This paper describes results obtained in the "Walk 2.0" trial to promote physical activity through a self-managed walking programme, using a social networking website that provided an online collaborative environment. Engagement of participants with the website was assessed by monitoring usage of the individual social networking functions (e.g. status post). The results demonstrate that users generally preferred contributing non-interactive public posts of information concerned with their individual physical activity levels, and more occasionally communicating privately to friends. Further analysis of topics within posts was done by classifying word usage frequencies. Results indicated that the dominant topics are well aligned with the social environment within which physical activity takes place. Topics centred around four main areas: description of the activity, timing of the activity, affective response to the activity, and context within which the activity occurs. These findings suggest that strong levels of user awareness and communication occur in the social networking setting, indicative of beneficial self-image and self-actualisation effects.

PMID:
25365675
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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