Psychosocial Mediators of Web-Based Interventions for Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle among Chinese College Students: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Wei Liang, Yanping Duan*, Yanping Wang, Sonia Lippke, Borui Shang, Zhihua Lin, Hagen Wulff, Julien Steven Baker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Web-based multiple health behavior change (MHBC) interventions have demonstrated effectiveness in promoting physical activity (PA) and fruit and vegetable consumption (FVC) among Chinese college students. However, there is limited research examining their effects on promoting a healthy lifestyle (ie, adhering to both PA and FVC behavioral recommendations) among Chinese college students. In addition, the salient psychosocial mediators of successful MHBC interventions need to be researched. Objective: This study aims to examine the effectiveness of a previous 8-week web-based MHBC program for promoting a healthy lifestyle and enhancing the psychosocial determinants (intention, self-efficacy, planning, and social support) of behavior change among Chinese college students. Furthermore, the study aims to identify whether changes in these psychosocial determinants mediate intervention effectiveness on the immediate and sustained lifestyle changes. Methods: This was a secondary analysis for a 3-arm randomized controlled trial. Chinese college students (N=552) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: a PA-first group (4-week PA intervention followed by 4-week FVC intervention), an FVC-first group (4-week FVC intervention followed by 4-week PA intervention), and a placebo control group. The intervention content was designed based on the health action process approach model. Data for analyses were collected at baseline (T0), postintervention assessment (T1), and 12-week follow-up assessment (T2). Results: At baseline, 13.9% (77/552) of the participants maintained a healthy lifestyle. After 8 weeks, more (200/552, 36.2%) participants achieved a healthy lifestyle. PA-first and FVC-first groups were, respectively, 3.24 times and 5 times more likely to adopt a healthy lifestyle than the control group at T1. After 12 weeks, 35.5% (196/552) of the participants adopted a healthy lifestyle. Intervention groups were approximately 2.99 times (PA first) and 4.07 times (FVC first) more likely to adopt a healthy lifestyle than the control group at T2. Intervention effects favored both intervention groups in self-efficacy and planning for PA and in intention and planning for FVC compared with the control condition.

intention mediated intervention effectiveness on the immediate lifestyle change after 8 weeks. Changes in FVC intention were identified as a salient mediator for facilitating sustained lifestyle change after 12 weeks. Conclusions: This study provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of an 8-week theory- and web-based MHBC intervention program on promoting a healthy lifestyle, self-efficacy and planning for PA, and intention and planning for FVC among Chinese college students. These research findings add new knowledge to the underlying psychosocial mechanisms of successful MHBC interventions. Overall, this study has considerable implications for future web-based MHBC research and practice in terms of addressing PA self-efficacy and FVC intention and helping students to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle independently of whether PA or FVC is addressed first.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere37563
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume24
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health Informatics

User-Defined Keywords

  • college students
  • fruit and vegetable consumption
  • lifestyle
  • mobile phone
  • physical activity
  • psychosocial mediators
  • randomized controlled trial
  • RCT
  • web-based intervention

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