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K-State Today

April 17, 2013

Help us solve our nation's heath problems: Web developers needed for social media physical activity intervention

Submitted by Brandon Irwin

We need your help.

Although regular physical activity is a key factor in the prevention of a variety of chronic diseases, the majority of Americans remain insufficiently active. In fact, less than 5 percent of U.S. adults meet the national physical activity recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week.

As more and more Americans are using digital technologies in their everyday lives, such as cellphones, federal funding has recently been shifting toward support for new and innovative technology-based physical activity interventions. Such interventions have typically involved the use of the Internet, wireless technologies and/or social media, which have the potential to reach and impact a large audience in a cost-effective way.

However, this potential has yet to be fully realized, as many technology-based programs have relatively small impact on actual physical activity behavior. There are many possible explanations for this failure, two of which involve software design/functionality issues, such as user interface and the selection and translation of behavioral theory into practice.

Bottom line: We can do better, and you can help.

We are looking for qualified Web developers — undergraduate, graduate students or faculty — to help in creating web-based, social media software. As behavioral scientists, we intend to inform the design of such software with evidence-based practices and theories of behavior change.

Interested undergraduate or graduate students would gain valuable practical and research experience and, pending department approval, earn course credit for their work.

Interested faculty and graduate students may be able to test their own hypotheses and potentially be included on subsequent grant proposals for extramural funding — such as NIH R21.

We would like to begin this project immediately. Preference will be given to experienced developers with summer availability. Other desirable expertise or interests include human-computer interaction, social network analysis, hierarchical linear modeling and smartphone app development.

To learn more about this project and/or to indicate your interest, please contact Brandon Irwin in the Digital Physical Activity Laboratory in the department of kinesiology at bcirwin@k-state.edu.

Thank you for your interest in this project and helping us improve our nation’s health.