Purpose: To compare the effectiveness of a Web-based physical activity (PA) intervention with identical content delivered in a printed workbook among a sample of adolescent girls.
Methods: Participants consisted of 319 girls with home Internet access enrolled in four middle schools within one school district. A randomized trial design was used to compare changes in PA self-efficacy and intentions after two weeks of exposure to either a Web- or print-based intervention delivered to their home. Self-reported physical activity was assessed as a secondary outcome. Analysis of covariance was conducted to determine changes between the intervention groups while controlling for baseline levels of PA constructs.
Results: Both Web and print groups had significant changes in physical activity self-efficacy (Web: t = 2.58, p = .01; print: t = 3.11, p = .002) and intentions (Web: t = 2.27, p = .02; print: t = 6.32, p < or = .001). The print group demonstrated significantly greater increases in intentions compared with the Web group (F [1,315] = 13.53, p < or = .001). Self-reported physical activity increased significantly in the print group only (t = 3.21, p = .002).
Conclusions: It cannot be assumed that new media technologies are superior to traditional media such as print for health communication to adolescents. These results suggest that a printed workbook was more effective than an identical website for increasing physical activity intentions and behavior among a sample of middle school girls.