Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

Dixie L. Thompson

Committee Members

David R. Bassett Jr., Eugene C. Fitzhugh, Hollie A. Raynor


This dissertation evaluated 1) the efficacy of a course-based Internet-technology intervention rooted in social cognitive theory (SCT) for increasing step counts in university faculty and staff, and 2) the effect of online social support tools on step counts among adults using a randomized control trial.

Thirty-six sedentary/insufficiently active university faculty and staff participated in an eight-week, Internet-delivered walking intervention. They received an Omron HJ-720ITC pedometer, personal step goals, and access to a Blackboard LearnTM website comprised of SCTbased features. Outcomes included daily steps, social support, self-regulation, self-efficacy, and outcome expectations. Participants significantly increased their average daily steps (p < 0.001) between baseline and week 1 by 1800. A similar increase in daily steps was observed between baseline and all other intervention weeks (p < 0.001). Social support and self-regulation significantly improved (p < 0.001). These findings helped inform the design of the second study.

In this second study, 63 sedentary/insufficiently active adults were randomly assigned to an online social support group or a no online social support group. Both groups received access to an Omron HJ-720ITC pedometer, individualized step goals, two websites, and a smartphone application for 12 weeks. The online social support group also had access to online social support tools. Outcomes included daily steps, self-regulation, social support, self-efficacy, and outcome expectations. Both groups significantly increased their daily steps (p < 0.05) from baseline (treatment: 4461.5 + 1480.7; control: 4630.6 + 1127.8) to 12 weeks (treatment: 5959.5 + 1811.4; control: 7443.0 + 2576.8), with no differences between groups. Family social support and exercise goal setting significantly increased in both groups (p < 0.05), with no difference between groups. A significant group by time interaction was found for exercise planning (p < 0.05) such that it increased in the control group and decreased in the treatment group. Self-efficacy significantly decreased in both groups (p < 0.05). Providing online social support tools to individuals randomly assigned to exercise groups does not result in enhanced daily steps or psychosocial outcomes when included as part of a technology-mediated walking intervention relative to an identical intervention without access to online social support tools.

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