A Photography-based, Social Media Walking Intervention Targeting Autonomous Motivations for Physical Activity: Semistructured Interviews With Older Women

Michael C. Robertson, Maria Chang Swartz, Ursela Christopherson, Jason R. Bentley, Karen M. Basen-Engquist, Debbe Thompson, Elena Volpi, Elizabeth J. Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Older adult women are at risk for negative health outcomes that engaging in sustained physical activity can help prevent. However, promoting long-term maintenance of physical activity in this population has proven to be a challenge. Increasing autonomous motivations (ie, intrinsic, integrated, and identified regulations) for physical activity may facilitate enduring behavior change. Digitally delivered games for health that take a celebratory technology approach, that is, using technology to create new ways to experience valued behaviors and express valued beliefs, may be a useful way to target autonomous motivations for physical activity. Formative research with the target population is needed to design compelling intervention content. Objective: The objective of this study is to investigate older adult women's reactions to and thoughts about a photography-based, social media walking game targeting autonomous motivations for physical activity. Methods: During an individual semistructured interview, a moderator solicited feedback from 20 older adult women (age range 65-74 years) as part of formative research to develop a social media game featuring weekly walking challenges. The challenges were designed to target autonomous motivations for physical activity. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Two reviewers conducted thematic content analysis on interview transcripts. Results: We identified 3 overarching themes in qualitative data analysis. These reflected the playful experiences, value, and acceptability associated with the intervention challenges. Generally, participants understood what the challenges were asking them to do, proffered appropriate example responses, and indicated that the challenges would be enjoyable. Participants reported that the intervention content afforded many and varied playful experiences (eg, competition, discovery, exploration, expression, fellowship, humor, nurture, sensation). Further, participants indicated that the intervention increased their motivation for physical activity, occasioned meaningful shifts in perspective, increased their knowledge of various topics of interest, provided an opportunity to create valued connection with others, and provided health-related benefits. Participants suggested the intervention emphasize local history, nature, and cultural events. Conclusions: The photography-based, social media walking game with relatively simple game mechanics was well received and judged to be apt to bring about a wide variety of emotive experiences. A clear, geographically specific identity emerged as a key driver of interest for intervention content. Taking a celebratory technology approach holds promise for targeting autonomous motivations for physical activity in older adult women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere35511
JournalJMIR Serious Games
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

Keywords

  • behavior
  • behavior change
  • behavior mechanism
  • behavioral interventions
  • exercise
  • fitness
  • gamification
  • health
  • intervention
  • mobile phone
  • older adults
  • older women
  • patient attitude
  • patient perspective
  • photography
  • physical activity
  • psychological theory
  • serious games
  • social media
  • walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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