Project Overview +

Girls on the Move is a computer-based interactive physical activity program used in school-based clinics as a counseling tool about exercise among adolescent girls.

Related Media +

Related Media:

Aims +

Aim 1. Develop a computer-based, tailored exercise promotion program for adolescent girls based on an existing model of a software system that corresponds to the core concepts of the transtheoretical model of change.

Aim 2. Implement in two middle school health clinics the multi-session exercise promotion intervention that will consist of access to the tailored software and the support of a nurse practitioner among adolescent girls who elected to participate.

Aim 3. Evaluate the intervention program by conducting a randomized trial to assess selected effectiveness outcomes.

Participants +

Seventy-seven racially diverse sedentary girls from two middle schools in Michigan.

Intervention +

The 12-week study is conducted in each school's wellness center (WC) during advisory periods. After explaining the study, the researcher records height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) of each participant. Participants respond to questionnaires presented on a laptop computer. Questions include demographic information; physical activity (PA) frequency, intensity, duration, and readiness; and information regarding the HPM constructs of interpersonal influences, activity-related affect (PA enjoyment), self-efficacy, and perceived benefits and barriers of PA.

Control: Following baseline questionnaire completion, girls in the control group receive age-specific PA recommendations. They are asked to return to the WC in 12 weeks to answer questions about their PA.

Intervention: At three distinct time periods (baseline, 3 weeks, 9 weeks) during the 12-week study, each girl assigned to the intervention group completes questionnaires, receives computer-based tailored feedback messages, and has a one-on-one counseling session with a nurse practitioner to assist her to increase her PA. The counseling is guided by a computer-generated one-page summary of each girl's responses to the questionnaires. Both the girl and the nurse practitioner sign a form/contract entitled "My Exercise Goals" to indicate mutual agreement with goals to be achieved by the participant. These goals can be renegotiated as necessary in future counseling sessions.

Immediately following baseline and 6 weeks into the program, the researchers mail a tip sheet to the parents/guardians to specifically guide them in helping their daughters to be active. At 1 week, 6 weeks, and 11 weeks after the initial visit, a trained research assistant, using a communication script created by the researchers, contacts each girl by telephone to assess her progress in achieving goals and assist her with renegotiating her goals as necessary.

Follow-up: During the 12th week, girls in the control and intervention groups return to the WC and complete the posttest consisting of all psychosocial and PA questionnaires. No feedback messages are received by girls in either group during this final session. Height, weight, and BMI are determined. Each girl receives a certificate for participation as well as a $15.00 gift certificate to a store of her choice.

Findings +

  • No differences in self-reported physical activity (PA) emerged between the groups.
  • To assess if any subset of the intervention group differed from the control group, the pre- to post-intervention difference in total number of minutes of moderate plus vigorous PA reported for 4 days was used.
  • Of the intervention group, 60% (high-change intervention subgroup) had significantly greater difference scores than those of the control group.
  • Differences between high- and low-change intervention subgroups for PA correlates were explored. When baseline scores were controlled, week 12 post-intervention mean scores for the high-change intervention subgroup were found to be significantly greater than those for the low-change intervention subgroup for perceived benefits of PA (p = .026), PA self-efficacy (p = .023), and enjoyment of PA (p= .010).

Conclusion +

Future efforts to increase PA participation might include strategies for enhancing perceived benefits, self-efficacy, and enjoyment of PA.