Earlier this week I attended the Health People 2010 conference in Loma Linda University in California. I was asked by Dr. Ernie Medina, MD and “exergaming evangelist” (and LLU alum) to be part of a panel on “Technology and Behavior Change”. Ernie was moderator and other panelists included Jennifer Shapiro, PhD (Scientific Director, SanTech) and Genevieve Dunton, Phd (Assistant Professor of Research, Department of Preventive Medicine, USC).
Dr. Shapiro discussed an interesting pilot research based on her company’s Text4Diet program (see her full abstract here) where participants were sent SMS/text messages during a weight-loss intervention. The results showed that those who received text-messages during their intervention lost up to 6lbs over the control group. Since text-messaging is such a personal way to reach people, it just goes to show you how it can be effectively utilized to influence people’s decision to make healthier choices throughout their day.
Dr. Dunton’s research was a bit different. It was more of an observational study about children’s level of physical activity and sedentary behaviors in their natural settings. Her research team used mobile phones as a tool to ask and gather data via text-messaging. For more on her research, check out the full abstract here.
My presentation was about how internet use influences behavior change (full session description here). The messages we receive, the social networks we participate in and the content we create online all play a role in how we adopt and maintain certain behaviors (good or bad). With so much of our image/identity being blurred between our online and offline presence, it is important to understand not just the tools available online – but the culture surrounding those tools.
Overall, it was a great conference. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend a lot of the sessions because I was in-out within 24 hours (and those cross-country flights ate up all my time!). As always, it was a pleasure to catch up with my exergaming colleagues, Ed and Tommy, from Exergame Fitness who also showed their support at the conference!