Mental Contrasting Physical Activity Study

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University of British Columbia

Status

Completed

Conditions

Motivation
Attitude to Health
Goals
Exercise

Treatments

Behavioral: Mental Contrasting

Study type

Interventional

Funder types

Other

Identifiers

NCT02615821
H14-02120

Details and patient eligibility

About

Given the numerous physical and psychological benefits of engaging in regular physical activity (Biddle & Ekkekakis, 2005; Warburton et al., 2007) and the decrease in students' physical activity levels during the transition from high school to university (Bray & Born, 2010) it is important for researchers to develop time-and-cost-effective interventions to prevent this drop in physical activity. Intervention research shows mental contrasting (a goal setting strategy) can be taught in a cost-and-time-effective way in order to increase physical activity (Oettingen, 2012). Researchers have also found that individuals who consider the emotional effects of physical activity are more likely to be physically active than those who consider the health-related effects (Rhodes et al., 2009). The purpose of this research is to combine these two approaches to develop and evaluate a novel mental contrasting intervention to increase physical activity among a sample of undergraduate students.

Full description

The transition from high school to university is a vulnerable period for discontinuing regular physical activity, which can have implications for individuals' physical and psychological health (Bray & Born, 2010). Accordingly, it is imperative to find and implement cost and time-effective interventions to mitigate the consequences of this transition. Mental contrasting is a goal-setting strategy that involves imagining the greatest outcome associated with achievement of a desired future goal while considering the aspects of one's present situation that may serve as obstacles for attaining that same goal (Oettingen & Gollwitzer, 2010). Intervention research has shown that mental contrasting can be taught as a metacognitive strategy in a cost- and time-effective way, affecting numerous health behaviours including physical activity (Oettingen, 2012). Drawing from diverse theoretical perspectives (e.g., Bechara, 2005; Lawton, Conner, & McEachan, 2009; Williams, 2010), recent meta-analytic evidence suggests that affective judgements (e.g., enjoyable-unenjoyable) exert greater influence on physical activity behaviors than health-related instrumental judgements (e.g., useful-useless; Rhodes, Fiala, & Conner, 2009). Nevertheless, research has yet to utilize mental contrasting as a means of targeting affective judgements, through intervention, in order to bolster physical activity promotion efforts. This research will examine how an affective mental contrasting intervention will change university students' affective judgements in comparison to instrumental mental contrasting and standard mental contrasting comparison conditions, and the subsequent impact of these changes on physical activity behaviour.

Enrollment

105 patients

Sex

Female

Volunteers

Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

Individuals will be eligible to participate if they are female, inactive (i.e., engage in moderate-vigorous intensity physical activity for more than 30 minutes, less than three times a week), studying for an undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia, and are able to read and converse in English.

Exclusion criteria

Participants will be excluded if they have any self-reported physical health conditions using the online version of the PAR-Q+ (http://eparmedx.com/?page_id=75) that would restrict them from increasing their physical activity behaviours at the time of the intervention.

Trial design

105 participants in 3 patient groups

Affective Mental Contrasting
Experimental group
Description:
Before the goal formation or mental contrasting activities, participants will receive information about the affective benefits of exercising (e.g. regular physical activity has been shown to reduce stress, physical activity is enjoyable), and related research support including appropriate references. During the mental contrasting component of the activity the prompts will remain the same as the standard condition, with minor variations in questions in order to elicit affective judgements. Specifically, the affective condition will include the additional prompts "Why might you find exercise to be enjoyable, pleasant, exciting, or fun?" for eliciting outcomes, and "Why might you find exercise to be unenjoyable, unpleasant, boring, or miserable?" for eliciting obstacles.
Treatment:
Behavioral: Mental Contrasting
Instrumental Mental Contrasting
Active Comparator group
Description:
Before the goal formation or mental contrasting activities,participants will receive information about the instrumental benefits of exercising (e.g., regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cancer) and related research support, again including appropriate references. During the mental contrasting component of the activity the prompts will remain the same as the standard condition, with minor variations in questions in order to elicit either instrumental judgements. Specifically, the instrumental conditions will include the prompts "Why might you find exercise to be useful, advantageous, beneficial, or important?" for eliciting outcomes, and "Why might you find exercise to be unimportant, useless, inconvenient, or detrimental?" for eliciting obstacles.
Treatment:
Behavioral: Mental Contrasting
Standard Mental Contrasting
Active Comparator group
Description:
In the standard condition, the space where the affective and instrumental benefits of physical activity were listed in the instrumental and affective conditions, will be left blank in the standard condition, and no additional prompting questions will be given, allowing for the idiosyncratic identification of obstacles and outcome.
Treatment:
Behavioral: Mental Contrasting

Trial contacts and locations

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Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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