A Rhode Island company is now partnering with McGraw-Hill Higher Education to distribute an online program to help college students to “liveWell” — as the program is called — through regular exercise, healthy eating, and stress management. Pro-Change Behavior Systems Inc. of South Kingston is licensing its program to McGraw-Hill, which will package the liveWell program with its health and human performance and student success textbooks. Instructors will be able to incorporate the program into classes as early as this fall.
“We know that often when students get to college their health behaviors start to move in the wrong direction,” said Sara Johnson, senior vice president of Pro-Change. Many college students are overweight, don’t exercise regularly and are severely stressed, she noted.
LiveWell is an online, interactive program that helps students to improve their exercise, eating and stress-management behaviors. Students answer questions about their behaviors and receive tailored messages to help them start or continue healthy behavior. The program also provides feedback about how users are doing compared to their peers and their progress since their last session.
After a student finishes this part of the program, he or she can access a variety of interactive activities and resources about well-being, including animated videos, quizzes, worksheets, and links to other helpful websites.
McGraw-Hill is also separately selling access codes to liveWell so that instructors using textbooks from other publishers can use the program in their courses. The program is not yet referenced in McGraw-Hill textbooks, but there are plans for future editions to do so, Johnson said. McGraw-Hill is also planning to incorporate the program to other disciplines, including psychology and nutrition, she said.
For now, professors might instruct their students to “read chapter 12 and do a session of liveWell,” Johnson said.
The program was developed through focus groups and pilot programs with students, including some from Bryant University and the University of Rhode Island.
All URI freshmen are required to take a course called “URI 101: Freshman Transition Seminar” to help them acclimate to the university experience, learning a smattering of skills related to health and well-being. Johnson said that universities are increasingly requiring their students to take such classes, which could incorporate liveWell.
URI students participating in the randomized trial of liveWell were asked to use the program three times over the course of the semester. Six and 12 months later, the students were followed-up with. Researchers found that the program assisted students with exercising regularly and adopting healthy eating habits. The program also helped students who were effectively managing their stress continue to do so. Overall, the researchers saw an improvement in well-being in the students who used the program as compared to the control group, Johnson said.
The research was supported by Small Business Innovative Research funding from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.