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      ‘It’s like a personal motivator that you carried around wi’ you’: utilising self-determination theory to understand men’s experiences of using pedometers to increase physical activity in a weight management programme

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          Self-monitoring using pedometers is an effective behaviour change technique to support increased physical activity (PA). However, the ways in which pedometers operate as motivational tools in adoption and maintenance of PA is not well understood. This paper investigates men’s experiences of pedometers as motivational tools both during and after their participation in a 12-week group-based, weight management programme for overweight/obese men, Football Fans in Training (FFIT).


          Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 28 men, purposively sampled to include men who did and did not achieve 5% weight loss during the programme. Data were analysed thematically utilising the framework approach, using Self-Determination Theory (SDT) - namely concepts of behavioural regulation and the basic needs of relatedness, competence and autonomy - as an analytical lens.


          During the programme, FFIT’s context and fellow participants supported relatedness and encouraged use of the pedometer. The pedometer was seen to provide tangible proof of progress, thus increasing competence for change, whilst the ability to monitor one’s own progress and take remedial action supported autonomy; these men portrayed the pedometer as an ‘ally’. However, a minority found the pedometer ‘dispiriting’ or controlling when it evidenced their inability to meet their PA targets.

          After the programme, some men no longer used the device as they had fully internalised their motivations for increased PA. In contrast, others continued to use pedometers or progressed to other self-monitoring technologies because it was enjoyable and facilitated maintenance of their increased PA. However, the minority of men who experienced the pedometer as controlling no longer used it. They were less successful in achieving 5% weight loss and appeared reliant on external factors, including support from coach and group members, to maintain motivation.


          These findings show how self-monitoring using pedometers and associated goal setting supported the development of autonomous motivation for PA, during and after participation in a group-based programme. They also suggest that programmes could focus on early identification of participants who remain motivated by extrinsic factors or express negative experiences of self-monitoring tools, to offer greater support to identify the benefits of PA based on a person’s own values.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12966-017-0505-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 38

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          Who succeeds in maintaining weight loss? A conceptual review of factors associated with weight loss maintenance and weight regain.

           K Elfhag,  S Rössner (2005)
          Weight loss is difficult to achieve and maintaining the weight loss is an even greater challenge. The identification of factors associated with weight loss maintenance can enhance our understanding for the behaviours and prerequisites that are crucial in sustaining a lowered body weight. In this paper we have reviewed the literature on factors associated with weight loss maintenance and weight regain. We have used a definition of weight maintenance implying intentional weight loss that has subsequently been maintained for at least 6 months. According to our review, successful weight maintenance is associated with more initial weight loss, reaching a self-determined goal weight, having a physically active lifestyle, a regular meal rhythm including breakfast and healthier eating, control of over-eating and self-monitoring of behaviours. Weight maintenance is further associated with an internal motivation to lose weight, social support, better coping strategies and ability to handle life stress, self-efficacy, autonomy, assuming responsibility in life, and overall more psychological strength and stability. Factors that may pose a risk for weight regain include a history of weight cycling, disinhibited eating, binge eating, more hunger, eating in response to negative emotions and stress, and more passive reactions to problems.
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            Making sense of qualitative data analysis: an introduction with illustrations from DIPEx (personal experiences of health and illness).

            This paper outlines an approach to analysing qualitative textual data from interviews and discusses how to ensure analytic procedures are appropriately rigorous. Qualitative data analysis should begin at an early stage in data collection and be highly systematic. It is important to identify issues that emerge during the data collection and analysis as well as those that the researcher may have anticipated (from reading or experience). Analysis is very time-consuming, but careful sampling, the collection of rich material and analytic depth mean that a relatively small number of cases can generate insights that apply well beyond the confines of the study. One particular approach to thematic analysis is introduced with examples from the DIPEx (personal experiences of health and illness) project, which collects video- and audio-taped interviews that are freely accessible through http://www.dipex.org. Qualitative analysis of patients' perspectives of illness can illuminate numerous issues that are important for medical education, some of which are unlikely to arise in the clinical encounter. Qualitative studies can also cover a much broader range of experiences - of both common and rare disease - than clinicians will see in practice. The DIPEx website is based on qualitative analysis of collections of interviews, illustrated with hundreds of video and audio clips, and is an innovative resource for medical education.
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              An assessment of self-reported physical activity instruments in young people for population surveillance: Project ALPHA

              Background The assessment of physical activity is an essential part of understanding patterns and influences of behaviour, designing interventions, and undertaking population surveillance and monitoring, but it is particularly problematic when using self-report instruments with young people. This study reviewed available self-report physical activity instruments developed for use with children and adolescents to assess their suitability and feasibility for use in population surveillance systems, particularly in Europe. Methods Systematic searches and review, supplemented by expert panel assessment. Results Papers (n = 437) were assessed as potentially relevant; 89 physical activity measures were identified with 20 activity-based measures receiving detailed assessment. Three received support from the majority of the expert group: Physical Activity Questionnaire for Children/Adolescents (PAQ-C/PAQ-A), Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance Survey (YRBS), and the Teen Health Survey. Conclusions Population surveillance of youth physical activity is strongly recommended and those involved in developing and undertaking this task should consider the three identified shortlisted instruments and evaluate their appropriateness for application within their national context. Further development and testing of measures suitable for population surveillance with young people is required.

                Author and article information

                Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
                Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
                The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
                BioMed Central (London )
                5 May 2017
                5 May 2017
                : 14
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2193 314X, GRID grid.8756.c, MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, , Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, ; 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow, G2 3QB UK
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2193 314X, GRID grid.8756.c, School of Social and Political Sciences, , Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, ; 25-29 Bute Gardens, Glasgow, G12 8RS UK
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7988, GRID grid.4305.2, Moray House School of Education, , Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, ; 2.27 St Leonard’s Land, Edinburgh, EH8 8AQ UK
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000265, Medical Research Council;
                Award ID: 68098
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                © The Author(s) 2017


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