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Experiences with and Perception of a Web-Based Mindfulness, Nutrition, and Fitness Platform Reported by First-Year University Students: A Qualitative Study



      My Viva Plan (MVP) ( is a web-based application developed by a dietitian that aims to support healthy living by providing resources and self-monitoring tools to help promote a healthy diet, healthy mind, and physical fitness. First-year university students have the potential to benefit because poor dietary choices, limited physical activity, and high stress are prevalent in this population. In addition, they are also active technology users.


      This study aims to understand experiences and perception of MVP by first-year university students using this tool as part of a 12-week randomized controlled trial.


      One-on-one semistructured interviews were conducted following a 12-week intervention involving use of MVP.


      First-year university students from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada (n = 32).


      Participants were instructed to use MVP as much as possible for 12 weeks in either the fall/2018 or winter/2019 semesters.

      Qualitative data analysis

      Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed abductively using content analysis.


      Participants reported varied use of MVP across the 12-week period. Data were categorized using the HealthChange Methodology (Behaviors, Emotions, 37 Situations, Thinking) framework. Participants provided various examples of emotions (eg, motivation, stress), situations (eg, time, living arrangements, finances), and thinking (eg, self-awareness, level of satisfaction with MVP, and how MVP was or could be better tailored for students) that acted as either facilitators or barriers to MVP use and explained their behaviors associated with this tool.


      Overall, participant behaviors regarding MVP varied and were influenced by several factors, including their emotions, situations, and thinking. The Behaviors, Emotions, Situations, Thinking framework may be helpful for dietitians to identify barriers and facilitators affecting their client’s use of ehealth tools for lifestyle behavior change. This information can be used to optimize client support when using these tools.


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      J.R.L. Lieffers is an assistant professor, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


      M. Quintanilha is principal researcher, Quali Q Inc, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


      C. F. Trottier is a research coordinator, Human Nutrition Research Unit, Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


      S. T. Johnson is an associate professor, Centre for Nursing & Health Studies, Faculty of Health Disciplines, Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta, Canada.


      J. F. Mota is an Associate Professor with the Clinical and Sports Nutrition Research Laboratory, Faculty of Nutrition, Federal University of Goiás, Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil.


      C. M. Prado is a professor, Human Nutrition Research Unit, Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.