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      An Evaluation of Web- and Print-Based Methods to Attract People to a Physical Activity Intervention

      , BSc (Psych)(Hons) 1 , , , PhD 2 , , PhD 3 , , PhD 1
      (Reviewer), (Reviewer), (Reviewer)
      JMIR Research Protocols
      JMIR Publications
      physical activity, web-based intervention, Internet, research subject recruitment, Facebook

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          Cost-effective and efficient methods to attract people to Web-based health behavior interventions need to be identified. Traditional print methods including leaflets, posters, and newspaper advertisements remain popular despite the expanding range of Web-based advertising options that have the potential to reach larger numbers at lower cost.


          This study evaluated the effectiveness of multiple Web-based and print-based methods to attract people to a Web-based physical activity intervention.


          A range of print-based (newspaper advertisements, newspaper articles, letterboxing, leaflets, and posters) and Web-based (Facebook advertisements, Google AdWords, and community calendars) methods were applied to attract participants to a Web-based physical activity intervention in Australia. The time investment, cost, number of first time website visits, the number of completed sign-up questionnaires, and the demographics of participants were recorded for each advertising method.


          A total of 278 people signed up to participate in the physical activity program. Of the print-based methods, newspaper advertisements totaled AUD $145, letterboxing AUD $135, leaflets AUD $66, posters AUD $52, and newspaper article AUD $3 per sign-up. Of the Web-based methods, Google AdWords totaled AUD $495, non-targeted Facebook advertisements AUD $68, targeted Facebook advertisements AUD $42, and community calendars AUD $12 per sign-up. Although the newspaper article and community calendars cost the least per sign-up, they resulted in only 17 and 6 sign-ups respectively. The targeted Facebook advertisements were the next most cost-effective method and reached a large number of sign-ups (n=184). The newspaper article and the targeted Facebook advertisements required the lowest time investment per sign-up (5 and 7 minutes respectively). People reached through the targeted Facebook advertisements were on average older (60 years vs 50 years, P<.001) and had a higher body mass index (32 vs 30, P<.05) than people reached through the other methods.


          Overall, our results demonstrate that targeted Facebook advertising is the most cost-effective and efficient method at attracting moderate numbers to physical activity interventions in comparison to the other methods tested. Newspaper advertisements, letterboxing, and Google AdWords were not effective. The community calendars and newspaper articles may be effective for small community interventions.


          Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12614000339651; https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=363570&isReview=true (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6hMnFTvBt)

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          Most cited references21

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          Revision of the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q).

          The original Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) offers a safe preliminary screening of candidates for exercise testing and prescription, but it screens out what seems an excessive proportion of apparently healthy older adults. To reduce unnecessary exclusions, an expert committee established by Fitness Canada has now revised the questionnaire wording. The present study compares responses to the original and the revised PAR-Q questionnaire in 399 men and women attending 40 accredited fitness testing centres across Canada. The number of subjects screened out by the revised test decreased significantly (p < .05), from 68 to 48 of the 399 subjects. The change reflects in part the inclusion of individuals who had made an erroneous positive response to the original question regarding high blood pressure. There is no simple gold standard to provide an objective evaluation of the sensitivity and specificity of either questionnaire format, but the revised wording has apparently had the intended effect of reducing positive responses, particularly to the question regarding an elevation of blood pressure.
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            Meta-analysis of internet-delivered interventions to increase physical activity levels

            Many internet-delivered physical activity behaviour change programs have been developed and evaluated. However, further evidence is required to ascertain the overall effectiveness of such interventions. The objective of the present review was to evaluate the effectiveness of internet-delivered interventions to increase physical activity, whilst also examining the effect of intervention moderators. A systematic search strategy identified relevant studies published in the English-language from Pubmed, Proquest, Scopus, PsychINFO, CINHAL, and Sport Discuss (January 1990 – June 2011). Eligible studies were required to include an internet-delivered intervention, target an adult population, measure and target physical activity as an outcome variable, and include a comparison group that did not receive internet-delivered materials. Studies were coded independently by two investigators. Overall effect sizes were combined based on the fixed effect model. Homogeneity and subsequent exploratory moderator analysis was undertaken. A total of 34 articles were identified for inclusion. The overall mean effect of internet-delivered interventions on physical activity was d = 0.14 (p = 0.00). Fixed-effect analysis revealed significant heterogeneity across studies (Q = 73.75; p = 0.00). Moderating variables such as larger sample size, screening for baseline physical activity levels and the inclusion of educational components significantly increased intervention effectiveness. Results of the meta-analysis support the delivery of internet-delivered interventions in producing positive changes in physical activity, however effect sizes were small. The ability of internet-delivered interventions to produce meaningful change in long-term physical activity remains unclear.
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              Web-Based Recruiting for Health Research Using a Social Networking Site: An Exploratory Study

              Background Recruitment of young people for health research by traditional methods has become more expensive and challenging over recent decades. The Internet presents an opportunity for innovative recruitment modalities. Objective To assess the feasibility of recruiting young females using targeted advertising on the social networking site Facebook. Methods We placed an advertisement on Facebook from May to September 2010, inviting 16- to 25-year-old females from Victoria, Australia, to participate in a health study. Those who clicked on the advertisement were redirected to the study website and were able to express interest by submitting their contact details online. They were contacted by a researcher who assessed eligibility and invited them to complete a health-related survey, which they could do confidentially and securely either at the study site or remotely online. Results A total of 551 females responded to the advertisement, of whom 426 agreed to participate, with 278 completing the survey (139 at the study site and 139 remotely). Respondents’ age distribution was representative of the target population, while 18- to 25-year-olds were more likely to be enrolled in the study and complete the survey than 16- to 17-year-olds (prevalence ratio = 1.37, 95% confidence interval 1.05–1.78, P = .02). The broad geographic distribution (major city, inner regional, and outer regional/remote) and socioeconomic profile of participants matched the target population. Predictors of participation were older age, higher education level, and higher body mass index. Average cost in advertising fees per compliant participant was US $20, making this highly cost effective. Conclusions Results demonstrate the potential of using modern information and communication technologies to engage young women in health research and penetrate into nonurban communities. The success of this method has implications for future medical and population research in this and other demographics.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                Apr-Jun 2016
                27 May 2016
                : 5
                : 2
                : e94
                [1] 1Physical Activity Research Group School of Human Health and Social Science Central Queensland University RockhamptonAustralia
                [2] 2Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation University of Alberta Edmonton, ABCanada
                [3] 3Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition University of Newcastle NewcastleAustralia
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Stephanie Alley s.alley@ 123456cqu.edu.au
                Author information
                ©Stephanie Alley, Cally Jennings, Ronald C Plotnikoff, Corneel Vandelanotte. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (http://www.researchprotocols.org), 27.05.2016.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 15 June 2015
                : 13 July 2015
                : 3 August 2015
                : 15 March 2016
                Original Paper
                Original Paper

                physical activity,web-based intervention,internet,research subject recruitment,facebook


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