Understanding word preference for description of exercise interventions as a means for enhancing recruitment and acceptability of exercise treatment among adults treated for depression

Keagan McPherson, Carrie Bronars, Christi Patten, Paul Decker, Christine Hughes, James Levine, Kristin Vickers-Douglas, Mark Williams, Michael Ussher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Background The importance of consumer preferences in the marketing and design of exercise and other health promotion interventions has received increasing attention. This study examined word preference for descriptions of an exercise intervention among 464 adults treated for depression. We also explored differences in word preference by current depression status, current smoking status and other demographic characteristics. Methods Respondents completed a mailed survey. They were asked to rate the likelihood of seeking out an exercise program described by 14 different adjectives (i.e., realistic and innovative) on a 5 point scale. Scale responses were dichotomized as 0, 1, 2 (not at all/a little/moderately) versus 3, 4 (quite a bit/extremely). Words endorsed as quite a bit/extremely likely in over half of the sample indicated consensus. Results Respondents were 82% female, 95% Caucasian, 22% were currently depressed (PHQ-2 score), and 14% were current smokers. Only 4 words met consensus criteria for likelihood of seeking out an exercise program: realistic, doable, fun and energizing. Programs described as novel, new, innovative along with vigorous or intense were not rated highly. Currently depressed individuals were less likely than non-depressed respondents to seek out an exercise program described as energizing (p = 0.014), but there were no differences in endorsing realistic, doable, or fun by current depression status. No significant differences were detected between current smokers and nonsmokers in likelihood of seeking out exercise programs being realistic, doable, fun, or energizing. Conclusion As a preliminary study, the results suggest there is a clear preference profile for exercise program descriptions which could be tapped to promote such programs and enhance recruitment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-77
Number of pages5
JournalMental Health and Physical Activity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014



  • Cigarette smoking
  • Depression
  • Depression treatment
  • Exercise coaching
  • Exercise preferences
  • Physical activity descriptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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