Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Chris Koronakos

Second Advisor

Dr. Malcolm Robertson

Third Advisor

Dr. Wayne Fuqua

Fourth Advisor

Dr. George Robeck


Behavioral techniques have proven effective in the acquisition and maintenance of new behaviors. However, health related behaviors, such as exercise, pose a special problem for the field of behavior change in that they require long-term lifestyle changes. This study assessed the effectiveness of relapse prevention training on exercise adherence within the framework of a formal exercise program. There were 20 subjects in the experimental group and 20 subjects in the control group. Both groups met for three, one-hour sessions weekly for eight consecutive weeks. Exercise class attendance was recorded by the instructor. In addition, the Physical Activity Index (PAI, n.d., available from YMCA, Kalamazoo, Michigan), a self-reported overall fitness rating scale, was administered as a pre-test, at two week intervals throughout the program, and at two post-test periods to both groups. The critical difference between the two groups lay in the experimental group receiving the relapse prevention training component during the first 14 sessions of the 24 session program, which included didactic presentations and hand-outs. The remaining 10 sessions were exercise sessions without the didactic component.

The findings from this study indicated that there was significantly greater attendance for the experimental group than for the control group. There was a significant correlation between attendance and last week of the program attended, with the experimental group staying in the program longer than the control group. There was a stable trend in attendance for the experimental group through session 14, after which there was a downward trend in attendance. The control group had a downward trend in attendance throughout the program. The PAI scores were significantly higher for the experimental group than for the control group. Secondary issues of the use of quizzes, the generalization of results, the use of naturally occurring groups, and the cost-effectiveness of this intervention were also discussed. It was concluded that relapse prevention training was an effective component to a successful exercise adherence program.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access