Role model stories delivered via YouTube: evaluating the impact of health promotion focused on exercise self-efficacy and exercise behaviors
Stanforth, M. Dixie
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The goal of this project was to utilize social modeling, one of the antecedents of self-efficacy, to determine whether participants from The University of Texas Division of Housing and Food Service (DHFS) who chose to view a bilingual exercise role model video on YouTube increased exercise self-efficacy or exercise behaviors, compared to those who did not. The message from their coworkers featured in the video was simple: “If I can do this, you can, too,” and personal stories and success strategies were blended together to encourage and motivate viewers. The video compilation highlighted specific success strategies, in addition to employees sharing stories about what motivated them to change, or barriers they had to overcome in order to succeed. The video clip included both Spanish and English speakers, and the alternate language translation appeared as subtitles in all frames. Participants completed surveys prior to the launch of the role model video and again after four weeks (N = 113). Neutral promotional materials, both print and electronic, were disseminated to generate awareness about the video and to compare the relative effectiveness of different techniques. E-mails were associated with the greatest spikes; YouTube tabulated 210 unique views during the four weeks. Coworker word of mouth was the primary way participants heard about the video for those who watched (52.8%) and those who did not (33.6%). Despite concerns that participants would not watch the video, 46.9% of the participants did so. Most (88.7%) of those who watched the video were able to recall specific story details, indicating the use of YouTube as a delivery platform for health interventions is promising. Mastery of exercise was the strongest predictor of exercise-self efficacy and exercise; exercise self-efficacy did not emerge as a key predictor variable. There were no differences in exercise levels, exercise self-efficacy, social support, or collective efficacy between those who watched the video and those who did not. While the exercise role model video was well-conceived and developed, allowing participants to control exposure without associated exercise sessions was not sufficient to bring about a measurable change in efficacy beliefs or exercise behaviors.