Research to encourage healthier lifestyles receives award
Dr Ruth Hunter won the Best Paper and Best Demo Piece at the 4th ICST International e-health conference
A Research Fellow from Queen's has received an award for her work on a novel system for incentivising behaviour change to encourage people to lead more active and healthier lifestyles.
Dr Ruth Hunter was awarded Best Paper and Best Demo Piece at the 4th ICST International e-Health conference for her work entitled The Physical Activity Loyalty Card Scheme: Development and Application of a Novel System for Incentivizing Behaviour Change. Dr Hunter is based in the Centre for Public Health in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences.
Using innovative technology involving RFID tags and NFC readers, this work investigates the use of incentives to encourage people to be more active and lead healthier lifestyles, and has been tested in the first randomised controlled trial of its kind.
Led by Professor Frank Kee, the Physical Activity Loyalty Card Scheme enables users of a ‘loyalty card’ to track their physical activity levels by swiping the card over sensors placed in parks and along foot and cycle paths. ‘Points’ are earned by swiping a small card containing a microchip (the loyalty card) across the sensors. As well as the number of points collected, users can keep track of their time, distance and calories on the scheme website. Working in a similar way to other high street loyalty cards, points can then be redeemed for rewards.
The second phase of the scheme involves taking advantage of the major urban regeneration project in east Belfast, known as the Connswater Community Greenway. The researchers plan to use this innovative technology, along with the support of local businesses, to roll the Physical Activity Loyalty Card Scheme out to approximately 10,000 local residents.