2017 - Research

Sustainable Transportation Attitudes and Health Behavior Change: Evaluation of a Brief Stage-Targeted Video Intervention

Key takeaways:

  • The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) has been recognized as a leading approach to changing health behaviors, such as smoking, diet, and exercise. TTM interventions have been proven successful in promoting sustainable transportation (walking, riding a bicycle, and taking public transportation). 
  • These interventions are easily scalable and have a potentially wide demographic and geographic reach for a relatively low cost.

Results:

  • TTM interventions have been proven successful in moving entire populations, including those who are uninterested in changing, towards behavior change and sustaining those changes in the long-term.
  • TTM identifies five stages of change when modifying behavior:
  1. Precontemplation: Denial of problem and resistance to change.
  2. Contemplation: Recognize benefits of changing but overestimate the costs and therefore are ambivalent.
  3. Preparation: Decision to change has been made and small steps are taken towards that goal.
  4. Action: Overt engagement, behavior modification, and hard work to prevent relapse.
  5. Maintenance: Change sustained for at least six months and preventing relapse requires less work since new habits have been formed.
  • As applied to sustainable transportation, the five stages of change would be:
  1. Precontemplation: I do not regularly use sustainable modes of transport and do not intend to start within the next six months.
  2. Contemplation: I am thinking about using sustainable transport regularly within the next six months.
  3. Preparation: I plan to use sustainable transportation regularly within the next 30 days.
  4. Action: I use sustainable transportation regularly and have been for less than six months.
  5. Maintenance: I use sustainable transportation regularly and have for six months or more.
  • This TTM intervention targeted people in the precontemplation stage (those who didn’t use sustainable modes of transportation and didn’t want to start). It was able to decrease the perceived cons of sustainable transportation and increase people’s likelihood of future adoption.
  • TTM research has found that individual behavior changes, which directly impact environmental sustainability, are often associated with policy support.
  • TTM measures provide a foundation to develop and evaluate future targeted multimedia messages and computer-tailored interventions for other sustainable behaviors, such as recycling, healthy eating, energy conservation, etc. These interventions are easy to implement and scale at a relatively low cost.

 

Implications:

  • Walk/Bike education, promotion, and encouragement activities could use the TTM to reach and influence people who are not yet walking or biking.

 

Methods:

  • Researchers designed and evaluated a brief multimedia video intervention to better inform future behavior change campaigns, which was targeted to those who did not yet use sustainable modes of transportation. The four-minute video featured appealing videos of transit riders getting on the bus at an urban terminal, people walking and cycling on a university campus, and brief interview clips about the health benefits of sustainable transportation. The interviews and video clips emphasized positive benefits of sustainable transportation, especially increased physical activity levels, better health, saving money, relaxing, listening to music, or getting work done on the commute. See the video here.

 

Mundorf, N., Redding, C.A. & Paiva, A.L. (2017). Sustainable Transportation Attitudes and Health Behavior Change: Evaluation of a Brief Stage-Targeted Video Intervention. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(1).