Examining the Use of Online Social Networking to Improve Physical Activity Behaviors among Young Adult Cancer Survivors Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 22, 2019
  • Valle, Carmina
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Nutrition
  • eHealth interventions have the potential to reach young adult cancer survivors, who are increasingly turning to the Internet and social networking sites (SNS) for health information and support. The overall goal of this research project was to assess whether an existing SNS is an effective channel to deliver a physical activity (PA) intervention to young adult cancer survivors. Aim 1 examined distinct subgroups of young adults (n=1619, 18-39y) that vary in their likelihood of not meeting PA recommendations using signal detection analysis of data from the Health Information National Trends Survey 2007. Predictors of not meeting PA guidelines were general health, body mass index, perceived cancer risk, health-related Internet use, and trust in information sources. The purpose of Aim 2 was to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of a 12-week, Internet-delivered intervention aimed at increasing moderate-intensity PA compared to a self-help comparison condition among young adult cancer survivors. Both interventions utilized Facebook as a means to promote social interaction. From baseline to 12 weeks, participants (n=86) in both groups increased self-reported weekly minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA (intervention: 67.0 min/week, p=0.009 vs. comparison: 46.3 min/week, p=0.045), with no significant differences between groups. Intervention group participants had a significantly greater increase in mild PA (intervention: 163.6 min/week vs. comparison: 28.5 min/week; p=0.032 between groups) and reported significant weight loss over time (-2.1 kg, p=0.004), which was marginally significant between groups (p=0.083). Aim 3 examined the effects of the intervention on psychosocial factors (self-efficacy, social support, self-monitoring) and determined whether these factors mediated the relationship between the intervention and PA. The intervention group reported lower self-efficacy for sticking to exercise (mean change=-0.38; p=0.025 between groups) and social support from friends on SNS (mean change=-0.47; p=0.039 between groups) relative to the comparison group over time. Among all participants, social support from friends and self-monitoring were positively associated with changes in moderate-to-vigorous PA. The proposed psychosocial mediators did not explain the positive effect of the intervention on mild PA. Results of this dissertation project suggest that SNS intervention approaches may be an effective way to promote mild PA in young adult cancer survivors.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Tate, Deborah
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2012

This work has no parents.