The effectiveness of a health versus appearance message on pregnant women's intentions to exercise postpartum : the moderating role of self-monitoring
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Despite the confimied health benefits of exercise during the postpartum period, many new mothers are not sufficiently active. The present research aimed to examine the effectiveness of 2 types of messages on intention to exercise after giving birth on 2 groups of pregnant women (low and high self-monitors) using the Theory of Planned Behavior as a theoretical basis. Participants were 2 1 8 pregnant women 1 8 years of age and older (Mean age = 27.9 years, SD = 5.47), and in their second or third trimester. Women completed a demographics questionnaire, a self-monitoring (SM) scale and the Godin Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire for current and pre-pregnancy exercise levels. They then read one of two brochures, describing either the health or appearance benefits of exercise for postpartum women. Women's attitudes, social norms, perceived behavioral control, and intentions to exercise postpartum were then assessed to determine whether one type of message (health or appearance) was more effective for each group. A MANOVA found no significant effect (p>0.05) for message type, SM, or their interaction. Possible reasons include the fact that the two messages may have been too similar, reading any message about exercise may result in intentions to exercise, or lack of attention given to the brochure. Given the lack of research in this area, more studies are necessary to confirm the present results. Two additional exploratory analyses were conducted. Pearson correlations found higher levels of pre-pregnancy exercise and current exercise to be associated with more positive attitudes, more positive subjective norms, higher perceived behavioral control, and higher intention to exercise postpartum. A hierarchical regression was conducted to determine the predictive utility of attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control on intention for each self-monitoring group. Results of the analysis demonstrated the three independent variables significantly predicted intention (p < .001) in both groups, accounting for 58-62% of the variance in intention. For low self-monitors, attitude was the strongest predictor of intention, followed by perceived behavioral control and subjective norm. For high self-monitors, perceived behavioral control was the strongest predictors, followed by attitudes and subjective norm. The present study has practical and real world implications by contributing to our understanding of what types of messages, in a brochure format, are most effective in changing pregnant women's attitudes, subjective norm, perceived behavioral control and intention to exercise postpartum and provides ftirther support for the use of the Theory of Planned Behavior with this population.