Texting to Increase Adolescent Physical Activity: Feasibility Assessment

Debbe Thompson, Dora Cantu, Betsy Ramirez, Karen W. Cullen, Tom Baranowski, Barbara Anderson, Jason Mendoza, Russ Jago, Wendy Rogers, Yan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Feasibility trials assess whether a behavior change program warrants a definite trial evaluation. This paper reports the feasibility of an intervention consisting of Self Determination Theory-informed text messages, pedometers, and goal prompts to increase adolescent physical activity. Methods: A four-group randomized design with baseline and immediate post-study assessments was used. Groups (pedometer; pedometer + goal prompt; pedometer + goal prompt + theory-informed texts; no-treatment control) were systematically varied to assess the additive effect of intervention components on objectively-measured physical activity (ie, ActiGraph). The primary outcome of the 12-week intervention was program feasibility. Changes in average daily step counts and minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were also examined. Post-intervention research with a sub-set of participants examined program reactions. Results: Participants (N = 160) were evenly split by sex, mostly 14-15 years old, and of diverse race/ethnicity. Feasibility criteria were met. Attrition rate was less than two percent. Modest increases in average daily step counts and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were observed in all groups except the control group. Participants reported positive reactions to the intervention. Conclusions: An intervention consisting of pedometers, theory-informed texts, and goal prompts, is a feasible and acceptable method for promoting physical activity to adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-483
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Behaviour
Issue number4
Early online date1 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Acceptance email received 26/04/2016


  • text messages
  • Self Determination Theory
  • physical activity
  • pedometers
  • adolescents
  • feasibility


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