Advances in Physical Education
2012. Vol.2, No.1, 10-16
Published Online February 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Efficacy and Feasibility of the “Girls’ Recreational Activity
Support Program Using Information Technology”:
A Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial
Tracey L. Kelty, Philip J. Morgan, David R. Lubans
Faculty of Education and Arts, School of Education, Un i v ersity of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia
Received October 27th, 2011; revised November 30th, 2011; accepted December 10th, 2011
This study evaluated the effects of the Girls Recreational Activity Support Program Using Information
Technology (GRASP-IT) intervention. This group randomized controlled trial for older adolescent girls
(15 years+) combined face-to-face sessions with the use of a social network website, Facebook. Baseline
and follow-up measurements were taken for physical activity (5 day pedometer), height, weight, esti-
mated VO2max (Queen’s College Step Test), self-efficacy and peer social support. A process evaluation
was conducted and included questionnaires and focus groups interviews. Although, the intervention group
increased physical activity (mean 1878 steps/day) the difference between groups was not significant (p =
0.11, d = 0.8). BMI, fitness, self-efficacy and peer support all improved for the intervention group, how-
ever, changes were not statistically significant between groups. Although participants enjoyed the face-to-
face component, engagement with the on-line component was low. Future interventions that utilize Face-
book as a medium for increasing physical activity for adolescent girls require additional strategies to im-
prove engagement and compliance.
Keywords: Physical Activity; Adolescent Girls; Intervention; Internet
It is well established that physical activity is positively asso-
ciated with improved health and wellbeing (Department of
Health and Ageing, 2004; US Department of Health and Hu-
man Services, 2000; WHO, 2004) and can prevent future life-
style diseases such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes
and obesity (Biddle, Gorley, & Stensel, 2004; Booth et al.,
2006; Nader, Bradley, Houts, Richie, & O’Brien, 2008). Re-
search has highlighted the steady decline in physical activity
levels from childhood to adolescence, which is more pro-
nounced among girls (Jamner, Spruijt-Metz, Bassin, & Cooper,
2004; Nader et al., 2008; Pate, Dowda, O’Neill, & Ward, 2007)
The majority of Australian girls in the 14 - 16 year age group
are not meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines
(Department of Health and Ageing, 2008). In a recent study it
was noted that only 33 per cent of girls met the national re-
commendations for moderate to vigorous physical activity
(MVPA) on most days (i.e. at least 60 minutes of MVPA per
day) and similarly, only 16% to 26% of girls aged 14 - 16 years
met the recommended number of steps per day (i.e. between
11,000 and 12,000 steps) (Department of Health and Ageing,
2008; President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, 2002;
Tudor-Locke & Bassett Jr., 2004).
Strategies to reduce the decline in activity among adolescent
girls and increase self-efficacy and motivation for an active
lifestyle are clearly warranted (Lubans, Foster, & Biddle, 2008;
van Sluijs, McMinn, & Griffin, 2007). Older adolescent girls
are particularly challenging to motivate and engage in physical
activity (Biddle & Wang, 2003) and the school is one setting
that has had varied success in increasing girls’ physical activity
(Dishman et al., 2004; Eliakim et al., 1996; Jamner et al., 2004;
Schneider et al., 2007; Stevens et al., 2005; van Sluijs et al.,
2007). It is important to note that the school setting plays a role
in the reduction of physical activity for older adolescent girls as
the transition from junior secondary school to senior secondary
school reduces the opportunities for many girls to be active at
school. Senior secondary students (Grades 11 - 12) in New
South Wales, Australia, currently move from compulsory
physical education lessons and sport in Grades 7 - 10, to op-
tional physical education and sport opportunities (New South
Wales Government, 2010). Therefore, without continued sup-
port to be active a reduction in physical activity for this cohort
is highly likely. Innovative strategies designed to combat the
decline in physical activity observed during adolescence are
needed and the internet has emerged as a promising strategy for
promoting physical activity in youth populations (Norman et al.,
2007). Notably, the use of social network sites in the world is
increaseing with the most popular sites being Facebook and
MySpace (ACM SIGCOMM Conference, 2008; Kazeniac,
2010; Thelwall, 2008), and these may be particularly appealing
for adolescent girls. Given their popularity, online communica-
tion sites that utilize social networking are a potential tool that
could allow adolescent girls to engage with each other to pro-
vide support to be active. However, few interventions have
targeted older adolescent girls using the internet as a source of
social support to be active (Norman et al., 2007). Furthermore, to
the authors’ knowledge, no previous study has used a social net-
work site to promote physical activity in adolescent girls (van
Sluijs et al., 2007). The aim of this paper is to report the feasibility
and prelim inary o utcom es of th e GRASP-I T pilot study.
Recruitment and Description of Sample
This study was a group randomized controlled trial (RCT)
and involved two secondary schools. A convenience sample of
five schools from New South Wales, Australia was approached
to take part in the pilot study. Schools were approached based
on similar drawing areas and the population of similar low/
medium socio-economic status. Two schools consented to par-
ticipate and were randomly allocated to intervention or control.
The study was open to all girls currently enrolled in Year 10
during 2009. Study participants were either intervention (n = 29)
or control (n = 23) and a mean age of 15.7 ± 1.5 years. The
protocol for this study was reviewed and approved by The
NSW State Education Research Approval Process (SERAP)
and the University of Newcastle Human Research Ethics
Committee (HREC) and each participant gave informed con-
sent to participate in the study. Baseline and 12-week follow-up
assessments were conducted (Tables 2 and 3).
The flow of participants through the study process is reported
in Figure 1.
Treatment Condi tions
The GRASP-IT intervention involved a 6-week school-based
physical activity program delivered during school sport fol-
lowed by a 6-week web-based program using Facebook outside
of school hours. The online component was completed in the
girls’ own time as use of the social network site was not per-
mitted during school hours. Gi rls at the control school continued
their existing school sport program. The GRASP-IT interven-
tion involved two distinct phases:
Analysed for primary outcome
Intervention (n = 10)Analysed for primary ou tcome
Control (n = 10)
August 2009
Control (n = 10)
Lost to follow u p (n = 5)
Reason: Pedometer log not returned
Augus t 2009
Interventio n (n = 14)
Lost to follow up (n = 7)
Reason: Pedometer log not returned
June to August 2009
12 week Inte rventionJune to August 2009
1 2 week school sport program
(n = 14)
May 2009
Interventio n (n = 21)
Com pleted baseline asse ssmen t
Excluded ( n = 8)
Reaso n: Pedo mete r log not retu rned
May 2009
Int ervention (n = 29)
May 2009 Recruited participants
Assessed fo r eligibility an d consent obtaine d
N = 52
Mar ch 2009
5 schools invitedMarch 2009
3 schools
ine li gible due to
sport day/ time
March 2009
2 schools randomize d
May 2 009
Control (n = 14)
Completed baseline asses sment
Exclu ded (n = 9)
Rea so n: Pedometer lo g not returned
May 2009
Control (n = 23)
Ph as e 1 - Information session and
school program - 6 weeks (n= 26)
Phase 2 - Facebook component -
6 weeks (n= 8)
3 Month
I nterv ention
Baselin e
Figure 1.
Participant flow diagram analyzed for primary outcome.
Phase one was a face-to-face program that included a 30 min-
ute information session followed by approximatel y 60 minutes o f
physical activity for six weeks delivered by a member of the
research team who is a qualified teacher. The intervention was
developed in reference to Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory
(Bandura, 1986) and was designed to target social support and
self-efficacy as key mediators of physical activity behaviour
change (Lubans, Foster, & Biddle, 2008). The information ses-
sions detailed strategies to be active alone and with friends as
well as identification of exercise intensity necessary for improv-
ing fitness and strategies to increase physical activity (Depart-
ment of Health and Ageing, 2008). The practical physical activity
sessions were designed to enhance exercise self-efficacy and
provided girls with an opportunity to participate in fun, easily
accessible, recreational physical activity that utilized community
and school facilities in a group setting. The sessions were de-
signed to provide girls with activity of moderate-to-vigorous
intensity that could easily be replicated by the girls in their spare
time (Table 1 ).
Phase two was the online support component and targeted
social support as an important mediator of behaviour change
(Dishman et al., 2004). This part of the program consisted of
information provision to increase physical activity and guid-
ance for social support using the online communication me-
dium Facebook. The girls from the intervention school were
invited by the researcher, directly and via email, to join a closed
group (to avoid contamination) on Facebook. The girls were
asked to complete some simple physical activity tasks each
week via online discussion. Due to the girls’ low level of activi-
ty and motivation evident during the face-to-face sessions tasks
set were created to motivate, engage and be achievable for all
participants with opportunity to increase intensity if desired.
The activities were set to be fun, of moderate intensity and the
girls were encouraged to increase their physical activity a varie-
ty of innovative ways (Table 1).
The online task requests were placed on Facebook asking the
girls to complete the weekly activities and then write on the
“Wall” (a comment box) in the Facebook site to discuss their
strategies to increase physical activity. The concluding investiga-
tion involved a process evaluation that used both questionnaires
and focus groups to reveal insights into the recruitment, retention,
adherence and satisfaction among the intervention group.
All assessments were conducted at the study schools using
the same instruments and equipment at baseline and 12-week
follow-up assessments. The primary outcome being physical
activity was measured using pedometers. All participants wore
a validated Yamax© digi-walker SW-700 pedometer (Lubans,
Morgan, & Tudor-Locke, 2009; Schofield, Schofield, Hinckson,
& Mummer, 2007) for five days (four weekdays and one
weekend day) and recorded their steps at night before sleep.
The researcher provided the girls with a text message to place
the pedometer on each morning and a message each night to
record their daily steps in their log books. Secondary measures
included BMI and cardio-respiratory fitness (CRF). Weight was
assessed using calibrated digital scales (measuring kilograms)
and height assessed using a calibrated stadiometer height slid-
ing scale (measuring centimetres). These measurements en-
abled BMI scores to be calculated (kg/m2) and age specific
cut-off points from the International Obesity Task Force were
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 11
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Table 1.
Intervention descripti o n and components.
PHASE 1—Face to face component ( 6 weeks)
Wk Specific focus for the information sessio n Activity (tim e/minutes) Target ed construct
1 Introduction to GRASP-IT.
Target heart rate and use of pedometers for
Informat ion and discussion (30 mins).
Beach walk (50 mins). Self-efficacy
Outcome expect an c y
2 Goal setting to increase physical activity.
Use of music and pom-pom.
Informatio n and discussion (30 mins).
Pom-Pom aerobic class and floor work in recreation
room (35 mins).
Behavioural strategies
3 Music speed/choice for an effective workout.
Counting beats in music for effective intensity
and duration.
Informat ion and discussion (30 mins).
Walk to local gym (800 m).
Step class at local gym (45 mins). Self-efficacy
4 Alternative ac tiv it ies for health and fitness. Informat ion and discussion (30 mins).
Walk to local gym (800 m).
Pilates/fitness class (50 mins).
Social support
5 Combinin g aerobi c exerci se with s trengt h and
Informatio n and discussion (30 mins).
Walk to local gym (800 m).
Aerobic class incorporating gymstick workout (40
6 Guide to online use.
Importance of continuous and regular physi-
cal activity.
Theory handout on Facebook registration.
Guide to joining Facebook and tips for use (30 mins).
Bush walk (50 mins).
Social support
Outcome expect an c y
PHASE 2—Online component (6 weeks)
Wk Specific focus for the week Activity and information placed on Facebook Targeted construct
7 Introduction to GRASP-IT online.
Goal setting update.
Tips for increasing physical activity.
Instructed to suggest activities you can do with
friends to keep active—Encouraged to write on the
online Wall.
Discussion about how it feels during and after a
physical activity session l.
Provided link s to websites for tips to be more active.
Social support
Behavioural strategies
Outcome expect an c y
8 Perception of current and future health status?
Nutrition and physical activity.
Provided further links to follow and discover health
status and nu tr itional tips.
Promote discussion about nutrition and physical
activity. Challenge to eat foods that are not processed
for one day—Wri te on the wall.
Social support
Outcome expect an c y
9 Music as a motivator to be active.
Activities to do alone or with friends.
Task set to choose songs of 130 - 140 beats per min-
ute to create a song list to use for stepping at home
and use a music device to step at your target heart
rate or walk to every day.
Social support
10 Self-esteem and self-efficacy.
Link to an article about increasing self-esteem, feel-
ings of self- worth and motivation.
Asked to comment on activities done with friends
and/or family. Emailed a weekly workout log and
encouraged to stick to a program.
Social support
11 Alternative activities—Outdoor recreational
Progress update—Write on wall.
Encouragement to increase physical activity.
Link to girls’ outdoor education site for ideas to be
Social support
Completion o f the progra m.
Encouragement to continue to increase phys-
ical activity behaviour and develop healthy
Encourag ed to continue t o exercise in many d ifferent
ways and to engage in physical activity every day.
Link to government health sites for current and future
Social support
Note: Pom Pom’s were made b y the girl s to use during baseline assessment in group s. Gymstick is an elasticized resistance bar that is attached to the feet.
The “wall” is an area in Facebook used for a brief comment that is clearly seen. Discussion section is a larger area to write a more extensive discussion.
used to determine whether the girls were in the healthy weight,
overweight or obese weight range (Cole, Bellizzi, Flegal, &
Dietz, 2000). The Queens College Step test (QCST) was used to
provide an estimate of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) (Lu-
bans, Morgan, Callister, & Collins, 2008). The girls stepped up
and down for three minutes continuously using a 41 cm bench;
wearing a Polar© heart rate monitor at a cadence of 88 beats per
minute set by a metronome. After three minutes the girls’ heart
rate was taken three times for 15 seconds at the time of 5 sec-
onds, 10 seconds and 20 seconds after completion of the 3 min-
utes stepping (Zwiren, Freedson, Warn, Wilke, & Rippe, 1991).
The average of the three scores was calculated to estimate the
maximal oxygen uptake [VO2max (ml/kg/min) = 65.81 – 0.1847
× heart rate (beats/min)] (McArdle, Katch, Pchar, Jacobson, &
Ruck, 1972). Validated questionnaires were administered to
measure self-efficacy scales (Motl et al., 2000) and peer social
support scales (Prochaska, Redgers, & Sallis, 2002), as these
were identified as potential mediators of behavior (Lubans et al.,
2008; Whitehead, Biddle, Donovan, & Nevill, 2006).
The mixed-methods process evaluation used both question-
naires and focus groups to reveal insights into the recruitment,
retention, adherence and program satisfaction among the inter-
vention group. Upon completion of the intervention, the girls in
the intervention group completed a process evaluation question-
naire and participated in a self-selected (based on friendship and
time availability) focus group discussion for 30 minutes t o reveal
insights into their experiences and perceptions of GRASP-IT.
The process evaluation was developed using the conceptual
framework outlined by Crutzen that included items in the ques-
tionnaire being framed around three aspects of exposure 1) ac-
cess to the intervention website; 2) staying long enough to use
and process the information (noting that it is difficult to deter-
mine how long is enough) and 3) revisiting the intervention web-
site (Crutzen et al., 2009). The questionnaire also included open-
ended questions regarding satisfaction/enjoyment and sugges-
tions for program improvement. The qualitative data for analysis
of the process evaluation and focus gro ups respon ses were sorted
into themed responses for the 12 process evaluatio n items and 12
focus group questions and responses grouped according to com-
mon responses and themes.
Comparisons of the intervention and control groups were
completed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences
(SPSS) version 16 software and statistical significance was set
at p < 0.05. Data were assessed for normality and satisfied the
criteria. Analysis of the covariance (ANCOVA) was used to
evaluate the impact of the GRASP-IT intervention on primary
and secondary outcomes. In the analysis the relationship be-
tween conditions (intervention and control) and time (baseline
and follow-up) was examined. For each outcome, the follow-up
score was the dependent variable, treatment condition was the
fixed factor and the baseline score was the covariate. This
analysis allowed for existing differences between groups at
baseline to be controlled for in the analysis. Cohen’s d was used
to determine effect sizes and was calculated using the mean
difference (3 months minus baseline) between groups and the
pooled standard deviation of change for the whole group. Effect
sizes were interpreted as small (d = 0.20), medium (d = 0.50) or
large (d = 0.80) (Cohen, 1988).
Baseline Characteristics
The flowchart for the study is displayed in Figure 1 and the
baseline results are displayed in Table 2. All 52 girls recruited
for the study were born in Australia and one was of Aboriginal
descent. The average age of the girls was 15.7 ± 1.5 years.
Physical activity for the intervention group was an average of
2639 steps less than the control group at baseline and the BMI
result for the intervention group was similar to the control
group being only 0.1 kg/m2 difference between the means at
baseline, additionally, the BMI z scores are all low and indicate
normal distribution (Table 2).
Effect of Intervention on Primary Outcome
The preliminary results for this study showed that there was
no treatment effect for physical activity. However, an increase
in physical activity from baseline to follow-up for the interven-
tion group was found while physical activity for the control
group regressed from baseline to follow-up (Table 3) and this
represented a large effect size (d = 0.8).
Effect of Intervention on Secondary Outcomes
The effect of the intervention on secondary outcomes show a
non significant reduction in BMI was observed among partici-
pants in the intervention group, with no change in BMI among
those in the control group. At baseline, 73 per cent of partici-
pants were in the healthy weight for age range and this increased
Table 2.
Baseline values by group for ou tc o mes.
Outcomes Control
(n = 14) Intervention
(n = 21) Whole
(n = 35)
MeanSD Mean SD MeanSD
Age 15.6 0.5 15.7 0.5 15.7 0.5
Weight 59.8 8.8 61.9 10.6 61.1 9.7
Height 1.62 0.5 1.65 0.0 1.64 0.5
BMI 22.8 3.7 22.7 4.1 22.8 3.9
BMI z scores –0.004–0.0 0.0 0.9 –0.0020.45
VO2max 35.4 2.0 35.2 3.2 35.3 2.6
Mean steps/daya11,69046969051 3466 10,3704081
Self-efficacyb 3.7 0.7 3.4 0.5 3.6 0.6
Peer supportb 2.3 0.9 1.9 0.9 2.1 0.9
aStudents wore pedometers for 4 weekdays and 1 weekend day; bQuestionnaire
scales ran ge f rom 0 to 4.
Table 3.
GRASP-IT intervention effects at post-intervention.
Mean (SD) Group × Time
Outcomes Assess-
ment Control Intervention F P D
Weight (kg)Baseline
post 59.8 (8.8)
60.0 (8.6) 61.9 (10.6)
60.3 (8.9) 1.460.235 –0.1
Height (cm)Baseline
post 1.62 (0.5)
1.63 (0.6) 1.65 (0.0)
1.66 (0.1) 1.01 0.3210.0
BMI (kg/m2)Baseline
post 22.8 (3.7)
22.8 (3.8) 22.7 (4.1)
21.8 (3.2) 2.480.124 –0.5
BMI z scoreBaseline
post 0.0 (0.9)
0.2 (1.1) –0.0038 (–0.0)
–0.1068 (–0.1) 2.480.124 –0.6
(ml/kg/min) Baseline
post 35.4 (2.0)
36.3 (2.1) 35.2 (3.2)
35.6 (2.4) 0.00 0.9670.1
Steps per dayaBaseline
post 11,690 (4696)
9812 (4745) 9051 (3466)
9883 (3512) 2.75 0.1120.8
post 3.7 (0.7)
3.6 (0.8) 3.4 (0.5)
3.5 (0.7) 3.72 0.060.8
Peer supportbBaseline
post 2.3 (0.9)
2.2 (1.0) 1.9 (0.9)
2.1 (0.9) 2.12 0.160.6
Note: The means and standard deviation (SD) are reported for all participants;
BMI = Body Mass Index; Effect sizes (d) were calculated by subtracting baseline
from post-test values then dividing by the pooled standard deviation of change.
ANCOVA was used to compare the means between tr eatment and control condi-
tions d = Cohen’s d (d = (M1 – M2)/σpooled). aPedometer worn for 4 weekdays and
1 weekend day; bQuestionnaire scales range from 0 to 4.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 13
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
to 92 per cent at follow up. In addition, those in the overweight
category decreased from 19 per cent to 4 per cent and those in
the obese category decreased from 8 per cent to 4 per cent re-
spectively (Cole et al., 2000). Large effect sizes were noted for
self-efficacy (d = 0.8). The estimated VO2max of girls in both
intervention and control groups increased slightly but with no
significant difference between groups (Table 3). Self-efficacy
and social support marginally increased (p = 0.06) between
groups and improved slightly for the intervention group.
Process Evaluation
Recruitment at both schools was generally successful with 29
girls recruited at the intervention school and 23 girls at the con-
trol school. Retention and adherence to the assessment compo-
nents of the program was low and the drop off rate of the girls
to log and/or return their pedometers decreased during the 12-
week time-frame (Figure 1) The intervention retention for the
face-to-face component was high (mean 80% attendance) for
the six week time-frame. However, the number of girls who
registered and participated during the on-line component of the
intervention was low (33 percent registered). The intervention
school process evaluation (n = 24) revealed that the girls were
satisfied with the GRASP-IT study. However, they indicated
that they preferred a face-to-face program rather than an internet-
led program. Of note was there preferred atmosphere to engage
in physical activity being with a small group of friends (Table
Focus groups revealed that the girls would prefer to interact
with friends online using Myspace not Facebook. During the
focus group sessions the girls indicated that they were not inter-
ested in the online activities and therefore, would not have
stayed on the site long enough to benefit from its use. The three
main themes extracted from the focus group responses were
firstly, the girl’s lack of interest to register and engage with each
other using the Facebook site. Quotes regarding the online
component stated “Facebook is for old people” and “Facebook
is for the older generation”. Secondly, they indicated a prefer-
ence for MySpace over Facebook to interact online stating
“MySpace is for the younger generation” and “we all know how
to use MySpace and we enjoy it more”. The third theme was a
preference for the program to be extended with many girls stat-
ing “I think it should be longer and we want more time”.
The aim of this study was to report the feasibility and prelimi-
nary efficacy of GRASP-IT intervention which utilized both
face-to face and online components. Notably, this is the first
tudy to evaluate a program that utilized a social networking s
Table 4.
Process evaluation for the GRASP-IT study.
(number of items) Example item Mean
Website appeal and navigational design
(7) a
“I found the Facebook si t e visually appealing.”
“It was ea sy to navigate from one point to another in the site.” 3.06
Expectations and use of website features
(8) a “Did the website meet your expectations.”
“Was the website personally use ful to you?” 2.23
Instigation of physical activity planning
(3) a
“I am now aware of how much physical activity is beneficial to
girls my age.”
“I now keep a record of my physical activity.”
Satisfaction (5) a “My involve ment in the GRASP - I T p r ogram was enjoyable.”
“I am satisfied with the GRASP-IT program.” 3.60
Social support structures (4) a
“The GRASP-IT program provided me with enough support to
help me i ncrease my physical activity.”
“I now enjoy physic al activity with my friends m ore often.”
Action taken to increase physical activity
(6) a
“My involvement in the GRASP-IT program encouraged me to
be more active with my friends.”
“My involvement in the GRASP-IT program encouraged me to
discuss my physical activity strategies with others.”
Current use and type of social network
site/s (1)
Frequency of use with the site of choice
More than once a day
Once a day
Once every two days
Once a week
Not at all
Preferred atmosphere to engage in PA (1)
With one friend
Small group of friends
Large grou p of friends
Group of un k nown people
Preferred program choice for increasing
physical activity (1)
Prefer an internet based program.
Prefer a program that meets face-to-face
Note: a = item measured on a scale of 1 to 5.
component to increase physical activity in adolescent girls.
Although participants in the GRASP-IT intervention group
increased their physical activity and enjoyed the face-to-face
intervention component, engagement and compliance with the
online component was low. Our failure to detect a statistically
significant between group differences for physical activity was
likely due to our sample size and inadequate statistical power as
a pilot study. It was encouraging to note that self-efficacy and
peer support all improved during the 12-week study among
participants in the intervention group. However, there was no
between group differences and the sample size may have also
been a possible explanation and limitation to our study. The use
of the internet to promote physical activity is an emerging area
of research and no previous study has attempted to engage ado-
lescent girls using social networking sites (Buis et al., 2009).
Many factors may have potentially hindered the success of the
program, and in particular, use of the social network site Face-
book for social support to be active. First, in the majority of
Australian schools social networking sites used by adolescents
are currently blocked by the educational authorities in state
system schools and students cannot access them during the
school day while at school (Department of Education and
Training, 2010). Second, limited ongoing support for the online
component of GRASP-IT existed as there was minimal contact
with the researcher for phase two. During phase one an outline
was given about the online component at the initial information
session, a further session to guide and encourage online Regis-
tration and use at the end of the face-to-face session was deliv-
ered and then reminders sent to the girls via email during phase
two was conducted. Furthermore, we found that girls preferred
mode of delivery for increasing physical activity was one that
meets face-to-face (78 percent) over an internet based (13 per-
cent) program.
A limited number of previous intervention studies have ex-
clusively targeted older adolescent girls’ physical activity (Dis-
hman et al., 2005; Eliakim et al., 1996; Jamner et al. 2004;
Murphy, Ni Khuinn, Browne, & O’Rathaille, 2006; Neumark-
Sztainer, Story, Hannan, & Rex, 2003; Schneider, Dunton, &
Cooper, 2008), but none have combined face-to-face component
with the use of a social networking site to enhance social support
for physical activity. While many previous studies have suc-
cessfully increased their physical activity in this cohort, they
have all differed in their design and delivery. One study, Project
FAB, did use the internet for participants to record physical
activity but not to support or motivate girls to increase physical
activity (Schneider et al., 2007). Another study promoted a self-
led activity program versus a teacher-led activity program and
concluded that both groups significantly increased physical acti-
vity however, the self-led program group also continued physi-
cal activity after the intervention (Murphy et al., 2006) which
demonstrates the need for studies to follow-up participants after
an intervention has concluded. The length of physical activity
interventions is also a key influencing factor in promoting self-
efficacy and ramifications of a longer GRASP-IT study with a
more comprehensive face-to-face component may have been
required to further increase self-efficacy. Of note, Project FAB
researchers described that a program that is longer than two
semesters, or 6 months or more, is more likely to successfully
impact on physical activity, as physical activity increased in the
later months of their intervention as did New Moves interven-
tion (Neumark-Sztainer et al., 2003; Schneider et al., 2007).
Our process evaluation provided a number of insights re-
garding elements of the GRASP-IT intervention. In general, the
girls were satisfied with the GRASP-IT intervention and were
more likely to self-monitor their physical activity at post-
treatment. They believed the GRASP-IT intervention provided
them with enough support to be active but interestingly, they
believed that this level of support did not necessarily lead to
physical activity behaviour change. Despite the girls preference
for participating in physical activity in small groups of friends,
rather than alone or in a large group, additional strategies may
be required to encourage girls to provide social support for
physical activity for each other. We determined that they pre-
ferred a longer program however, we were not able to deter-
mine whether they would have liked more face-to-face sessions
and/or an extended period of time to engage with the website,
however, future studies should consider integrating both the
face-to-face and online component to encourage compliance,
monitor use and trouble shoot to maximize the intervention
dose and potentially impact on physical activity behaviour.
That is, engagement with the website may have been greater if
the face-to-face component used some time to encourage, clari-
fy and motivate the girls to use the website in conjunction with
the face-to-face activities. GRASP-IT recruitment at both
schools was initially successful; however, strategies to address
compliance for the collection of physical activity data is an
issue to be further addressed in future studies (Neumark-
Sztainer et al., 2003; Schneider et al., 2007).
This is the first study that has attempted to engage older ado-
lescent girls to increase their physical activity behaviour using
the social networking site Facebook. We recommend that future
programs targeting older adolescent girls could include an in-
crease in the length of time for face-to-face sessions to maxi-
mize outcomes given the girls preference for this medium and
the possible investigation of other more popular sites that may
be more desirable for adolescent girls to engage and enjoy
while supporting each other to be physically active. The inter-
net is clearly an emerging area for engaging the youth of today
with a high use of technology on their agenda for social, educa-
tional and entertainment pursuits. Interventions need to em-
brace this technologically evolving world and consider innova-
tive ways to engage older adolescent girls in physical activity.
The availability of computer access with internet is increasing
and advancing technology in schools will give many adolescent
girls access to internet support, both during schools hours and
out of school hours and this in turn may potentially benefit their
health through the use of programs such as GRASP-IT.
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