Date of Award

8-2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. R. Wayne Fuqua

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard W. Malott

Third Advisor

Dr. Stephanie M. Peterson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Antonio Lopez-Pelaez

Abstract

An Internet-based five-week duration program to improve “health habits” using behavior analysis principles and eHealth technology was developed and evaluated. The “health habits” include recurring behaviors that impact health status such as eating, sleeping, and physical activity.

Ten adult participants were recruited online from Mexico. A multiple baseline design was used and participants were randomly assigned into two different groups (i.e., ABBAA and AABBA groups). Participants received online training using videos describing the characteristics of the program and its components. Each participant recorded selected health behaviors using a Microsoft Excel® tool designed specifically for this program’s goal achievements. Participants reported their performance on a daily basis to their “performance manager” via text messages (i.e., sending a picture of the tool and any preferred tracking device they wanted to use and have access to), which assisted their performance manager in tracking their progress. Goal attainment, as assessed through the text messages, was rewarded by monetary compensation awarded from the performance manager during the two weeks of intervention. During all the experimental phases, participants consulted with their performance manager and set health behaviors improvement goals. These goals were adjusted on a weekly basis. Failure to attain goals resulted in feedback from the performance manager on how to overcome barriers. It was concluded that health behaviors do not increase only under the intervention phases (e.g., money contingencies) but during all the phases. This is explained by the monitoring and feedback procedures.

A social validity survey was used to assess participant satisfaction. The participants scored the program and its components as beneficial for the improvement of physical activity, eating, and sleeping habits (4.72/5.0 points). All these “healthy habits” have statistical significant differences (p < 0.05) comparing the results before and after the program. Finally, weight reduction was not statistically significant for all the participants. Nevertheless, this was not the main goal of the program but a secondary benefit for those interested in achieving this goal. A longer duration of the program may be likely to improve weight reduction results.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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