Using social media to build social cohesion for health promotion among low-resourced mothers
Background: Physical activity (PA) is an essential component of chronic disease prevention, yet most Americans do not meet the recommended PA guidelines. Rates of chronic disease are also higher among low-income communities.
Aims: This study aimed to co-design and test the feasibility of a digital health intervention for low-income mothers in Washington Heights, Manhattan.
Methods: The co-design phase consisted of interviews (n=10) to identify barriers and opportunities for health and wellbeing and a co-design workshop (n=16) to develop the intervention activities. Next, the intervention phase consisted of a pilot feasibility study (n=21) of the intervention, consisting of weekly dance and yoga classes, food pantry visits, and group playdates. The activities were coordinated through a text-message group and a NextDoor group, and free professional childcare was provided during wellness activities. Participation rates, social cohesion, physical activity, and health status and wellbeing were measured at baseline and follow-up via questionnaire.
Results: 90% of participants attended one or more FT4W activities. The questionnaire was completed by 100% of participants indicating it was easy to understand and not too burdensome. All measures detected change in constructs from baseline to follow-up. Availability of childcare was the most commonly (66%) reported reason participants were able to engage in the offered wellness activities.
Conclusions: Using co-design methods ensured that the intervention met the needs of low-income mothers and led to the inclusion of components such as free professional childcare. Recruitment, retention, and acceptability rates were high; however, moms need additional support to increase participation in wellness activities and improve technology literacy. Finally, a planned component of the intervention was to include a Community Champion as a group facilitator, but this role proved difficult to fill. These lessons will be applied to a future, larger-scale trial of this intervention.