Article Abstract

African American women’s relationship with their mobile phone, and what they want in a mobile delivered physical activity intervention: guidance for intervention development

Authors: Marie A. Sillice, Ernestine Jennings, Lisa A. Uebelacker, Ana M. Abrantes, Curtis C. Holland, Bailey O’Keeffe, Beth C. Bock


Background: Mobile phone text messaging is an emerging platform in physical activity (PA) interventions with African American (AA) women. Research on the relationship that AA women have with their mobile phone as well as their views about text messaging as a potentially viable platform to help them acquire and maintain regular PA is central in advancing this field of research. Both self-report measures and qualitative interviews may be helpful in this endeavor.
Methods: In the current study, a sample of 42 generally physically inactive AA women (mean age =35, SD =10.25) completed the Mobile Phone Affinity Scale (MPAS), which consists of six subscales that represent both positive (Connectedness, Productivity, Empowerment) and negative (Continuous Use, Anxious Attachment, Addiction) cognitions and behaviors that are associated with mobile phone use patterns. A subgroup of twenty participants completed a semi-structured qualitative interview that explored their views of text messaging technology as a potential platform to help become and remain physically active. Quantitative analyses included frequency and analyses of variance (ANOVAs) and assessed mobile phone use patterns and demographic differences based on age, marital status and education on the MPAS. Qualitative content analysis was conducted on participants’ verbatim responses.
Results: Results indicated that participants overall endorsed the positive MPAS subscales at a higher frequency compared to the negative subscales. Demographic differences were noted only for age and marital status for some of the MPAS subscales. Younger participants reported higher mean scores for the MPAS subscales Connectedness (P=0.005), Empowerment/Safety (P=0.04), Continuous Use (P=0.04), and Addiction (P=0.004) in comparison to older participants. Significant results for marital status showed single participants were higher on the Connectedness (P=0.02) and Productivity (P=0.01) subscales compared to married participants. Qualitative data showed that 19 of the 20 participants (95%) viewed text messaging as an appealing platform to deliver daily motivational messages to increase PA engagement. Participants stated a text messaging PA intervention would be “convenient” and “motivating”. However, most participants suggested that other mobile phone technology applications in addition to text messaging would facilitate self-monitoring PA behaviors (e.g., goal setting, activity tracking) in mobile phone delivered (mHealth) PA interventions targeting AA women.
Conclusions: The study findings provide guidance in the development of mHealth intervention approaches for PA promotion that are likely to appeal to AA women, increase engagement, and behavior change among this group.