Engaging families in lifestyle changes through social networking

Nilufar Baghaei, Stephen Kimani, Jill Freyne, Emily Brindal, Shlomo Berkovsky, Greg Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has shown that providing family engagement and social support play important roles in weight management success, helping to achieve long-term lifestyle changes. Traditionally, the support provided by online health communities is primarily targeted at individuals and does not involve their families. SOFA (SOcial FAmilies), a novel approach for engaging, motivating, and persuading families to adopt a healthy lifestyle, is proposed. SOFA is an online social network for families coupled with a repository of health-related educational content. This article reports the results of a live user study aimed at investigating how user profile representation and system-assigned tasks influence users engagement with the system and change their attitude toward a healthy lifestyle. The results show that representing family members as individuals increases the number of active members per family as well as their retention, contribution to, and engagement with the network. The results also show that family-based social networks positively change the attitude of family members toward a healthy lifestyle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-990
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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