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Mary Stenson, Exercise Science & Sport Studies


Programs designed to improve health outcomes do not always result in meaningful positive behavior change. Their efficacy may be limited by clinical resources and variation in motivation and learning style between patients. This presentation compares two studies: one aimed at improving the average daily step count of faculty and staff at the College of Saint Benedict through text message or social media encouragement, and one aimed at improving the bone health of female students through an online video or one-on-one provider-patient intervention. Both studies provide interesting comparisons of health interventions across different age groups, and between education versus motivation based behavior change. Both studies address the importance of applying research to the clinical setting. In the faculty/staff population, despite the absence of significant behavior change, 70.4 percent of participants who completed the post intervention survey reported text message and social media encouragement helped them be more active. Participants identified accountability as the main motivator for behavior change. Technology based health interventions may be important in making desirable health outcomes more accessible to patients and reduce the burden on health professionals. No gains in student learning in the education based intervention led to corresponding changes in behaviors. This provides some insights into the discordance between knowledge and behavior in college students, indicating a motivation instead of education based intervention may be more effective in this population. When considered together, the results of these two studies provide important insights for future research towards accessible behavior change.