- Purpose: Many programs are available to engage people in health-promoting behaviors or behavior change, but most target specific behavior outcomes (e.g., weight loss, smoking cessation) rather than wellness. This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of a tracking-based health challenge focused on overall wellness, with or without peer support.
Methods: Participants (n=100) were recruited from among faculty and staff within Oregon State University for a six-week challenge, which consisted of daily tracking of 15 health-related habits using a preset scoring system. Participants were randomized to track points individually (Group 1) or with added peer support components (Group 2). Height and weight were measured, and health behaviors were assessed via surveys administered pre-challenge, immediately post-challenge, and six weeks post-challenge.
Results: No effect of group assignment was found. For the following variables, there was a significant time effect when groups were combined: increased flossing (p<0.001); improved perceived stress scores (p<0.005); trend for improved sleep quality (p=0.075); increased moderate physical activity (p<0.001); and increased total physical activity (p<0.001). When only pre- and post-challenge time points were analyzed (i.e., excluding follow-up), the following variables improved: hours of sleep (p=0.013), vigorous physical activity (p=0.061), weight (p=0.054), and body mass index (p=0.017). Qualitative data suggest the challenge was well-received by participants with many self-reported benefits, including more energy, better sleep, less back pain, and some weight loss.
Conclusions: This health challenge model may be an effective approach to change health habits. Further analyses and additional controlled trials are needed to understand the efficacy and the role of peer support.
Key Words: web-based intervention, behavior change, challenge, wellness, health