Yiling Tang’s PhD Thesis Proposal

Title: MoodMover: The development of an app-based behavioural intervention for increasing physical activity among people with depression

Thesis Supervisor: Dr. Guy Faulkner
Committee Members: Dr. Raymond Lam (Psychiatry), Dr. Eli Puterman, Dr. Sam Liu (UVic School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education)
Dr. Desi McEwan

Abstract: Exercise is now recommended as a frontline treatment for depression but it is not clear how, or to whom, mental health practitioners could refer patients to exercise programming. With the possibility of such programming not being available nor attractive to some, complementary, self-guided mhealth interventions might have a role to play.  This is the overarching objective of my thesis – to take a careful, sequential approach in developing and testing an app specifically designed to increase lifestyle physical activity (PA) among people with depression. The first study of my thesis was a systematic review of the effectiveness of internet-guided self-help interventions in increasing PA among people with depression. The review aimed to identify the need for new app-based PA interventions for this population, synthesize existing evidence in this field, and potentially inform the development of such apps. Aligned with one of the recommendations made by Study 1, the second study was a secondary data analysis investigating the potential adoption of the Multi-Process Action Control theoretical framework to guide the behaviour change content of the app. Collectively, these findings informed the development of a prototype app (MoodMover) for evaluation in Study 3 & 4. Study 3 describes the development process of MoodMover following the integration of the two selected systematic behavioral intervention development frameworks (The Obesity-Related Behavioural Intervention Trials (ORBIT) model and the Integrate, Design, Assess, and Share (IDEAS) framework). In addition, a usability testing study employing a formative mixed methods approach is proposed in Study 3 to gather user feedback and further refine the app. In the fourth and final study, a feasibility pilot study is proposed to evaluate the feasibility, usability, acceptability, and also preliminary efficacy of MoodMover among a sample of patients with depression.  If successful, my research will lay the foundations for a scalable intervention that could be integrated into mental health care across Canada.