Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Health Promotion

Supervisor

Jennifer D. Irwin

Abstract

Engaging in different types of incidental physical activity of daily living (e.g., walking to school or stair climbing) could contribute to individuals leading more active lifestyles by improving their total physical activity levels and reducing rates of inactivity. Particularly, post-secondary students are highly inactive and innovative strategies are needed to encourage them to be more active. The overall purpose of this research program was to explore the use of evidence-informed and tailor-made point-of-choice prompts to promote active transportation and staircase use among university students. Study 1 employed focus groups to determine the most suitable health messages and designs to create point-of-choice prompts for promoting active transportation and staircase use that would appeal to undergraduate students. Study 2 included an online questionnaire to assess students’ awareness, impact, and feedback regarding the suitability of utilizing active transportation-promoting point-of-choice prompts at transit hubs on campus. Study 3 incorporated a pre-post study design to examine the influence of a multi-component poster-based intervention to promote stair climbing at a campus library.

The results of Study 1 indicated that undergraduate students preferred simple point-of-choice prompt designs with tailored messages. Additionally, students from the focus groups had diverse lifestyle-based values associated with physical activity and their participation in activities were affected by uncontrollable factors (e.g., time, built environment, and weather). Study 2 determined that approximately 41% of respondents were aware of the prompts, with awareness levels being associated with the distribution and the design of the displays. Although students assessed them as suitable, the prompts did not impact the transportation choices of the majority of respondents who saw them. The findings from Study 3 indicated that the frequency of stair climbing on weekdays was significantly higher during the intervention and follow-up periods compared to the baseline period. This effect was not found on weekends. The overall increase stair climbing rate observed in this study (2.5%) is similar to previous research using point-of-choice prompts only.

In conclusion, the findings from these studies helped to determine the extent to which tailored and strategically-placed point-of-choice prompts aid to increase levels of active transportation and stair climbing on a university campus.

Summary for Lay Audience

Physical activity is a health promoting behaviour that decreases risk factors for chronic diseases and enhances well-being. Engaging in different activities of daily living—such as walking for transport or stair climbing—may help many adults lead more active lifestyles. College/university students are generally not active enough to gain health benefits and new strategies are needed to encourage them to be more active. The overall purpose of the Routines to Enhance Active Lifestyles (REAL) Projects was to explore the use of health promotion posters and signs to encourage walking/biking and staircase use among Western University students. Study 1 utilized focus groups to determine what undergraduate students thought would be the most effective messages and poster/sign designs to encourage their peers to walk/bike (instead of using cars and buses) and use the stairs (instead of elevators). Study 2 included an online questionnaire to assess students’ awareness of the study material, impact of the signage, and overall feedback about the signs that were designed to promote walking/biking that were displayed at transit hubs on campus. Study 3 incorporated a multi-component poster-based intervention to influence the rates of stair climbing at a campus library.

The results of Study 1 indicated that students preferred simple health poster/sign designs with tailored messages; had different values associated with physical activity; and perceived their participation in different activities were affected by uncontrollable factors such as time/weather. Study 2 determined that approximately 41% of participants were aware of the health promotion signs, with awareness levels being associated with the distribution and the design of the displays. Although participants rated the intervention as suitable, the displays did not impact the transportation choices of most of the participants who saw them. In Study 3, when the health promotion posters were displayed at a campus library, there were more stair climbers on weekdays versus weekends. The overall increase stair climbing rate was similar to findings from previous research.

In conclusion, the results from the three studies helped to determine the extent to which health promotion posters/signs could help to increase rates of walking/biking and stair climbing on a university campus.

Available for download on Tuesday, October 01, 2019

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