Try the modernized beta website. Learn more about the modernization effort.
Working… Menu

The Causal Impact of Online Social Media on Physical Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT02267369
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : October 17, 2014
Last Update Posted : October 17, 2014
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
University of Pennsylvania

Tracking Information
First Submitted Date  ICMJE October 7, 2014
First Posted Date  ICMJE October 17, 2014
Last Update Posted Date October 17, 2014
Study Start Date  ICMJE January 2014
Actual Primary Completion Date May 2014   (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Current Primary Outcome Measures  ICMJE
 (submitted: October 13, 2014)
Fitness workshop enrollment [ Time Frame: Up to 3 months ]
Participants' enrollment in fitness workshops is recorded when participants digitally confirm their workshop registration. Workshop instructors confirm the attendance of enrolled participants. Enrollment is assessed up to 3 months from date of randomization.
Original Primary Outcome Measures  ICMJE Same as current
Change History No Changes Posted
Current Secondary Outcome Measures  ICMJE
 (submitted: October 13, 2014)
Change from baseline in participants' self-reported physical activity level [ Time Frame: Baseline and 3 months ]
At the baseline and post-program (3 months) online surveys, participants answer the question: "On how many of the past 7 days did you participate in physical activity for at least 30 minutes that did not make you sweat or breathe hard, such as fast walking, slow bicycling, and skating?" Responses to the question range from 0 to 7.
Original Secondary Outcome Measures  ICMJE Same as current
Current Other Pre-specified Outcome Measures Not Provided
Original Other Pre-specified Outcome Measures Not Provided
Descriptive Information
Brief Title  ICMJE The Causal Impact of Online Social Media on Physical Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Official Title  ICMJE The Causal Impact of Online Social Media on Physical Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Brief Summary The overall objective of this research is to collect data for understanding whether messages in online environments impact fitness attitudes and behaviors. In particular, the study aims to experimentally examine what features of online social media - promotional messaging or peer networks - impact offline fitness measures (such fitness workshop enrollment and self-reported physical activity level). The study partners with an existing fitness program at a large northeastern university, which provides a 13-week fitness program for graduate and professional students at the university. The program begins with a university-run eligibility assessment of specific fitness measures for all participants, who win prizes for improvements in program participation and health behavior outcomes. The fitness program consists of semester-long series of workshops offered through the university's recreation department. The randomized trial constructs an online social media platform for the fitness program that provides a way to send either promotion health messages or messages about peer activities to the online community.
Detailed Description

Sedentary lifestyle among university students and young adults has become a global epidemic. Widespread use of social media is both a contributing factor, and a potential solution; however the cost-effective use of social media to promote fitness on college campuses is poorly understood. This study aims to identify what features of social media - promotional messaging or peer networks - can increase physical activity levels.

In this randomized controlled trial, participants are randomized to three conditions: basic online program for enrolling in university-run weekly fitness workshops, media condition that supplements the basic program with promotional media messages, and a social condition that replaces the media content with a network of peers. Participants are limited to graduate and professional students at a large northeastern university.

Study Type  ICMJE Interventional
Study Phase  ICMJE Not Applicable
Study Design  ICMJE Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double (Care Provider, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Basic Science
Condition  ICMJE Physical Activity
Intervention  ICMJE
  • Behavioral: Media-assisted fitness program
    Participants can register workshops online, track program participation, and receive promotional health messages online.
    Other Name: Media condition
  • Behavioral: Social network-assisted fitness program
    Participants can register workshops online and track program participation. Participants are put into anonymous online social networks and receive real-time activity updates from 4-6 peers.
    Other Name: Social condition
  • Behavioral: Basic fitness program
    Participants can register workshops online and track program participation.
    Other Name: Control condition
Study Arms  ICMJE
  • Active Comparator: Basic fitness program
    The control condition provides study participants with online tools for enrolling in offline fitness workshops offered by the university's recreation department and recording their progress in the program. All fitness workshops are pre-programmed in an online calendar. Upon clicking a workshop, participants can read a detailed description and register for it directly on the calendar. The registration then triggers a confirmation email sent to the participant immediately and a reminder email 12 hours before the workshop starts. In addition, an online tracking tool is built that participants can use to keep a daily journal of their health activities and fitness status.
    Intervention: Behavioral: Basic fitness program
  • Experimental: Media-assisted fitness program
    The media condition evaluates the effects of informational and motivational messages on physical activity by supplementing the basic program tools with promotional media, including: "high arousal" videos encouraging physical activity, real-time email notifications about upcoming fitness workshops, and informational graphics with exercise tips and motivational messages. In the media condition, participants receive two videos on the website and one informational graphic that encourage physical activity on a weekly basis.
    Intervention: Behavioral: Media-assisted fitness program
  • Experimental: Social network-assisted fitness program
    The social condition, by contrast, omits the media content. Instead, the basic program is supplemented with a network of four to six anonymous "health peers," composed of other participants of the program. Within the program website, each participant is able to see their peers' basic profile information, as well as information about their peers' progress in the program, and real-time notifications about their peers' completion of program activities. These networks do not provide any added incentives or additional content to promote physical activity, nor can participants directly communicate with, or "message" their peers through the website.
    Intervention: Behavioral: Social network-assisted fitness program
Publications *

*   Includes publications given by the data provider as well as publications identified by Identifier (NCT Number) in Medline.
Recruitment Information
Recruitment Status  ICMJE Completed
Actual Enrollment  ICMJE
 (submitted: October 13, 2014)
Original Actual Enrollment  ICMJE Same as current
Actual Study Completion Date  ICMJE May 2014
Actual Primary Completion Date May 2014   (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Eligibility Criteria  ICMJE

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Graduate and professional students at a large northeastern university.
  • Logging in to the study website at least once after online registration

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Inability to perform physical activities (e.g., broken limbs), and underlying diseases that were likely to affect participant safety. Ineligibility is determined by the Department of Recreation and Health Services at the university.
Sex/Gender  ICMJE
Sexes Eligible for Study: All
Ages  ICMJE Child, Adult, Older Adult
Accepts Healthy Volunteers  ICMJE Yes
Contacts  ICMJE Contact information is only displayed when the study is recruiting subjects
Listed Location Countries  ICMJE Not Provided
Removed Location Countries  
Administrative Information
NCT Number  ICMJE NCT02267369
Other Study ID Numbers  ICMJE 819455
Has Data Monitoring Committee No
U.S. FDA-regulated Product Not Provided
IPD Sharing Statement  ICMJE Not Provided
Responsible Party University of Pennsylvania
Study Sponsor  ICMJE University of Pennsylvania
Collaborators  ICMJE Not Provided
Investigators  ICMJE
Principal Investigator: Damon M. Centola, Ph.D Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
PRS Account University of Pennsylvania
Verification Date October 2014

ICMJE     Data element required by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and the World Health Organization ICTRP