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The mPED randomized controlled clinical trial: applying mobile persuasive technologies to increase physical activity in sedentary women protocol

Yoshimi Fukuoka1*, Judith Komatsu2, Larry Suarez3, Eric Vittinghoff4, William Haskell5, Tina Noorishad2 and Kristin Pham2

Author Affiliations

1 Institute for Health & Aging, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, 3333 California Street, Suite 340, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA

2 Institute for Health & Aging, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA

3 Information Services Unit, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA, USA

4 Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA

5 Stanford Prevention Research Center, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:933  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-933

Published: 14 December 2011



Despite the significant health benefits of regular physical activity, approximately half of American adults, particularly women and minorities, do not meet the current physical activity recommendations. Mobile phone technologies are readily available, easily accessible and may provide a potentially powerful tool for delivering physical activity interventions. However, we need to understand how to effectively apply these mobile technologies to increase and maintain physical activity in physically inactive women. The purpose of this paper is to describe the study design and protocol of the mPED (mobile phone based physical activity education) randomized controlled clinical trial that examines the efficacy of a 3-month mobile phone and pedometer based physical activity intervention and compares two different 6-month maintenance interventions.


A randomized controlled trial (RCT) with three arms; 1) PLUS (3-month mobile phone and pedometer based physical activity intervention and 6-month mobile phone diary maintenance intervention), 2) REGULAR (3-month mobile phone and pedometer based physical activity intervention and 6-month pedometer maintenance intervention), and 3) CONTROL (pedometer only, but no intervention will be conducted). A total of 192 physically inactive women who meet all inclusion criteria and successfully complete a 3-week run-in will be randomized into one of the three groups. The mobile phone serves as a means of delivering the physical activity intervention, setting individualized weekly physical activity goals, and providing self-monitoring (activity diary), immediate feedback and social support. The mobile phone also functions as a tool for communication and real-time data capture. The primary outcome is objectively measured physical activity.


If efficacy of the intervention with a mobile phone is demonstrated, the results of this RCT will be able to provide new insights for current behavioral sciences and mHealth.

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