Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bernice Yates


Most Americans do not engage in enough healthy physical activity (PA), with working women particularly at-risk for inactivity. Workplace PA interventions have been effective, however studies using peers as the central theoretical strategy, have not been found. Social cognitive theory and social comparison theory were used to develop a peer-modeling workplace PA intervention. The aims of this experimental, two-group, preliminary study were: 1) assess intervention feasibility, 2) determine the intervention effect on cardiorespiratory fitness (primary outcome), and PA behavior, cardiovascular risk, self-efficacy, motivation, and social comparison, and 3) describe participant perceptions of the intervention using qualitative focus-group data. Female employees from a health system were randomized to either an attention control group (ACG) or an intervention group (IG). The ACG (n = 26) received general health information. The IG (n = 26) participated in six group sessions with a peer-model, received an exercise prescription, and PA information. Measures at baseline and 12-weeks were: PA (ActiGraph), VO2max (cycle ergometer), resting heart rate, glucose, lipids, and cardiovascular risk score. Using hierarchical linear modeling, no significant group by time effects were found. Although PA increased in both groups (F [df = 1] = 11.4, p = .002), the IG had greater improvements in measures of fitness and cardiovascular risk compared to the ACG. Both groups decreased in self-efficacy while motivation remained stable. The IG group increased in all measures of social comparison while the ACG dropped in comparisons of ability, opinions, modeling, and future-self. Focus-group data indicated peer-models were perceived to be credible, informative, and motivating. The intervention could be expanded to include more peer-model interaction and nutritional content. These findings support testing the intervention with a fully-powered study.

Available for download on Thursday, April 26, 2018

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