UMMS Affiliation

Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Department of Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Health Information Technology | Health Services Administration | Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases | Public Health | Social Media


BACKGROUND: Online social networks may be a promising modality to deliver lifestyle interventions by reducing cost and burden. Although online social networks have been integrated as one component of multimodality lifestyle interventions, no randomized trials to date have compared a lifestyle intervention delivered entirely via online social network with a traditional clinic-delivered intervention.

OBJECTIVE: This paper describes the design and methods of a noninferiority randomized controlled trial, testing (1) whether a lifestyle intervention delivered entirely through an online social network would produce weight loss that would not be appreciably worse than that induced by a traditional clinic-based lifestyle intervention among overweight and obese adults and (2) whether the former would do so at a lower cost.

METHODS: Adults with body mass index (BMI) between 27 and 45 kg/m(2) (N=328) will be recruited from the communities in central Massachusetts. These overweight or obese adults will be randomized to two conditions: a lifestyle intervention delivered entirely via the online social network Twitter (Get Social condition) and an in-person group-based lifestyle intervention (Traditional condition) among overweight and obese adults. Measures will be obtained at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months after randomization. The primary noninferiority outcome is percentage weight loss at 12 months. Secondary noninferiority outcomes include dietary intake and moderate intensity physical activity at 12 months. Our secondary aim is to compare the conditions on cost. Exploratory outcomes include treatment retention, acceptability, and burden. Finally, we will explore predictors of weight loss in the online social network condition.

RESULTS: The final wave of data collection is expected to conclude in June 2019. Data analysis will take place in the months following and is expected to be complete in September 2019.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings will extend the literature by revealing whether delivering a lifestyle intervention via an online social network is an effective alternative to the traditional modality of clinic visits, given the former might be more scalable and feasible to implement in settings that cannot support clinic-based models.



life style, methods, obesity, randomized controlled trial, social support, weight loss

Rights and Permissions

© Monica L Wang, Molly E Waring, Danielle E Jake-Schoffman, Jessica L Oleski, Zachary Michaels, Jared M Goetz, Stephenie C Lemon, Yunsheng Ma, Sherry L Pagoto. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (,11.12.2017. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

DOI of Published Version



JMIR Res Protoc. 2017 Dec 11;6(12):e243. doi: 10.2196/resprot.8068. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

JMIR research protocols

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.