Discussion & Recommendations
I created the 8-week wellness program around Paul Taylor and Dr. Roy Sugarman’s content to understand how new technology can best be used in a scalable wellness program. I focused specifically on self-tracking devices like the Fitbit, behavior modification theory, self determination theory, and how behaviors are spread or strengthen through a social network.
My research has shown that on average, subjects with a higher social and online engagement were more likely to have improved their mental and physical health during the 8-week program. Subjects who improved either their mental or physical health also showed to have a higher level of motivation than those who did not. However, with about half of the participants not completing the final health survey, we cannot accurately determine if the program was successful for most of the subjects.
The most significant limitation of the study was having effective ways to communicate with and engage subjects. Expectations about the level of engagement needed to participate in the study should have been better communicated, so that I could better analyze the mental and physical health changes of more subjects. My messaging to subjects may have focused too much on how to create positive behavior change and not enough on the importance of tracking progress or actively participating in the weekly surveys.
Just as important as messaging was the usability of the health surveys. The weekly surveys had a much higher participation rate than the final health survey because it was so difficult for subjects to access. As noted in other sections of this project, the health survey was not accessible on any Mac device that was made in the past 2 years or any device that had any version more recent than Internet Explorer 8. The current Internet Explorer version is 10. Many subjects had emailed me personally asking for help with logging in and completing the health survey. Some subjects had emailed me after submitting their health survey on the website, after which I was unable to find their results and had to ask them to resubmit their survey. I wonder how many other subjects had thought that they had submitted a survey without it being fulling processed for more to access.
An opportunity that came from another significant limitation in the study was creating a brand and way to “sell” Paul Taylor and Dr. Sugarman’s 7 Body- Brain boosters. Although Taylor and Sugarman had created the Boosters program with engaging videos, there was no specific branding or direction to take this content in my study. Because branding and messaging of these boosters was nondescript, I was free to create a style of messaging for this content and later offered a position as Director of Marketing at Paul Taylor’s fitness company. Despite personal and creative opportunities from this limitation, not having a strong brand or clear content program to follow may have resulted in less an overall less effective program for participants.
I created this study with the intention of challenging myself as much as I could before graduating. This meant designing and building a website without graphic design or programming experience. Because I used a http://wordpress.com template to build the site and Infographics made on http://infogr.am I was not able to exact look and user experience that I had hoped for with this program. It is difficult to say how much my technical and design compromises had affected the results of the study, but it is clear to me that the content could have been displayed in a more engaging style.
This limitation also had an effect on the quality data I was able to collect during the study, as WordPress does not allow for Google Analytics integration. WordPress has their own site analysis dashboard that doesn’t offer much information aside from the total number of people who viewed each post per day. Google Analytics data would have shown me exactly when subjects visited the site, how long they were on the site, what device they were using to visit the site and much more. However, not using a WordPress site template would have meant that subject may not have been able to access the site from multiple devices or engage with the site’s content as easily.
Digital wellness and a democratization of healthcare may be new, but it is here to stay. According to a recent Pew Study, “81% of U.S. adults use the internet and 59% say they have looked online for health information in the past year. 35% of U.S. adults say they have gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have.” These numbers are likely to only increase as internet access and patient services become more easy to use and less expensive to consumers.
As new technology for integrating personalized data and social media is developed, so will new ways to engage users in online wellness and behavior change programs. By creating a easy way for people to connect with each other, understand how to change their behaviors, and incorporate personal health data into their daily lives wellness program of the future will be more effective, cost efficient, scalable, and fun for users to make significant improvements to the quality of their lives.
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.