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Type: Journal article
Title: Examining the use of evidence-based and social media supported tools in freely accessible physical activity intervention websites
Author: Vandelanotte, C.
Kirwan, M.
Rebar, A.
Alley, S.
Short, C.
Fallon, L.
Buzza, G.
Schoeppe, S.
Maher, C.
Duncan, M.
Citation: International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2014; 11(1):105-1-105-12
Publisher: BioMed Central
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 1479-5868
Statement of
Corneel Vandelanotte, Morwenna Kirwan, Amanda Rebar, Stephanie Alley, Camille Short, Luke Fallon, Gavin Buzza, Stephanie Schoeppe, Carol Maher, and Mitch J Duncan
Abstract: BACKGROUND: It has been shown that physical activity is more likely to increase if web-based interventions apply evidence-based components (e.g. self-monitoring) and incorporate interactive social media applications (e.g. social networking), but it is unclear to what extent these are being utilized in the publicly available web-based physical activity interventions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether freely accessible websites delivering physical activity interventions use evidence-based behavior change techniques and provide social media applications. METHODS: In 2013, a systematic search strategy examined 750 websites. Data was extracted on a wide range of variables (e.g. self-monitoring, goal setting, and social media applications). To evaluate website quality a new tool, comprising three sub-scores (Behavioral Components, Interactivity and User Generated Content), was developed to assess implementation of behavior change techniques and social media applications. An overall website quality scored was obtained by summing the three sub-scores. RESULTS: Forty-six publicly available websites were included in the study. The use of self-monitoring (54.3%), goal setting (41.3%) and provision of feedback (46%) was relatively low given the amount of evidence supporting these features. Whereas the presence of features allowing users to generate content (73.9%), and social media components (Facebook (65.2%), Twitter (47.8%), YouTube (48.7%), smartphone applications (34.8%)) was relatively high considering their innovative and untested nature. Nearly all websites applied some behavioral and social media applications. The average Behavioral Components score was 3.45 (±2.53) out of 10. The average Interactivity score was 3.57 (±2.16) out of 10. The average User Generated Content Score was 4.02 (±2.77) out of 10. The average overall website quality score was 11.04 (±6.92) out of 30. Four websites (8.7%) were classified as high quality, 12 websites (26.1%) were classified as moderate quality, and 30 websites (65.2%) were classified as low quality. CONCLUSIONS: Despite large developments in Internet technology and growth in the knowledge of how to develop more effective web-based interventions, overall website quality was low and the majority of freely available physical activity websites lack the components associated with behavior change. However, the results show that website quality can be improved by taking a number of simple steps, and the presence of social media applications in most websites is encouraging.
Keywords: Physical activity; web-based intervention; freely accessible; web 2.0; social media; behavior change; interactivity; user generated content; website quality; online; internet
Rights: © 2014 Vandelanotte et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
RMID: 0030021256
DOI: 10.1186/s12966-014-0105-0
Appears in Collections:Medicine publications

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