Non-communicable diseases, along with the often chronic physical and emotional suffering associated with them, are a growing financial and social burden on the global community. Surgery and pharmaceutical prescriptions are often used to treat these diseases with varying degrees of effectiveness, financial expense, and physical side effects.
Advances self-tracking technology, social networking and progressive data capture have created a space for applying behavior modification and social networking theory to the every day lives of consumers and patients, with the hope of improving productivity and wellness one small behavior at a time.
With the help of Paul Taylor, Dr. Roy Sugarman, and the City of Ballarat I have created an 8-week online wellness program set on empowering participants to make healthy changes in their daily lives and social communities by creating an engaging online content strategy.
To measure the effectiveness of the program’s online and social engagement in addition to improving the overall mental and physical health of participants, I used the following points of engagement and feedback from 108 study subjects:
- A comprehensive health survey (SF-36v2 health survey in Appendix) at the beginning and end of the study;
- A Fitbit activity monitor and website social platform access;
- Weekly emails and small surveys;
- One group Skype presentation during the middle of the study; and
- Occasional personalized feedback and encouragement.
After the 8 week program, 54 subjects completed the final Health Survey. 18 subjects had some mental or physical improvement, 14 subjects had some mental, but no physical health improvement, and 7 subjects had some physical, but no mental health improvement.
Overall, the subjects saw a 6.83 point improvement in their General Health (physical) score and a 4.79 point improvement in their Mental Health score. Both scores were slightly over the General Population Norm of 50.
The subjects who improved their physical and mental health during the program showed, on average, to have a higher motivation level in addition to greater social and online engagement with the program. Throughout the program, the majority of subjects felt that they had improved their health behaviors but wanted to do more.
By applying behavior modification theory to an online wellness program with a more robust social integration and a network theory analysis, small but significant lifestyle changes can be successfully developed to offset the negative effects of non-communicable diseases. Most importantly, these changes can be developed in a more cost effective and scalable manner of prevention than other expensive treatments as surgery and pharmaceutical prescriptions.
This Document is a Master’s Project which has been prepared at the request of and in connection with the University of San Francisco Sport Management Program. Neither this Master’s Project nor any of the information contained therein may be reproduced or disclosed to any person under any circumstances without the express written permission of Mae Schultz.