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Evaluation of acceptability and preliminary efficacy of an Internet and short message service (SMS) intervention for promoting physical activity (PA) in Hong Kong Chinese school children. An 8-week quasi-experimental study non-randomly assigned 78 school children (mean age=12.8 years) to (a) an intervention group that received a stage-matched, Internet PA program two times a week and tailored SMS messages daily; or (b) a no-treatment control. Data were collected from September 2008 until June 2009. Acceptability measures included exposure rate and participant's satisfaction. Efficacy measures were changes in stage of motivational readiness (SMR) and self-reported PA level. Intervention participants demonstrated significant pre-post increments in SMR (Z=−2.558, p=0.011) and self-reported PA level [F(1, 76)=4.50, p=0.04]. There was a non-significant trend between groups in both SMR (p=0.24) and PA (p=0.13). Despite the similar ratings of satisfaction between Internet (M=3.12±0.74) and SMS (M=3.12±0.84), participants displayed distinct patterns of exposure with 66% exhibiting a weekly login rate of 0.5 times/person and an average of 3.75 minutes/visit/person. In contrast, 79% of participants read an average of 1.3 SMS/person/week and 47% voluntarily replied to 3.8 SMS/person. These findings demonstrate the acceptability and preliminary efficacy of an Internet-SMS-based intervention for promoting PA in Hong Kong school children. The divergent exposure rates between the Internet and SMS may be a unique pattern for adolescents in early SMR. Future research should be cognizant of the importance of SMR since it may influence utilization and/or adherence.

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This is a copy of an article published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking © 2012 [copyright Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.]. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking is available online at: DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0161