Research Spotlight: Dr. Neil Peterson

By Kathryn Mulligan

The professors at the College of Nursing are always working on various research projects. Some revolve around patient care. Others revolve around global and public health. For Dr. Neil Peterson, his current research revolves around activity trackers.

Dr. Peterson has been researching how activity trackers motivate women and their physical activity rates. His inspiration for the project came from seeing the results from another set of research he conducted in which he discovered women generally don’t enjoy wearing activity trackers. Thanks to the College of Nursing’s Elaine Dyer Research Endowment Award, he explored this very issue with graduate student Dani Bate and undergraduate student Amanda Fleming. His research focused on fifteen different women who spent three weeks wearing three different activity trackers, alternating which tracker they were wearing each week. The activity trackers used in the study were the Apple Watch (a wrist-based activity tracker), the Oura Ring (a finger-based activity tracker), and the Bellabeat (an activity tracker that can be worn as a bracelet or a necklace).

Dr. Peterson and his team are still analyzing the quantitative data that will reveal how much each activity tracker motivated the fifteen women. However, they have reviewed the interviews that reveal which activity tracker the participants liked the best. Overall, the participants reported liking the Apple Watch the best due to its customizable appearance and the features of the associated app.

Once this research is concluded, Dr. Peterson is looking at doing similar research with a different group of women and new devices, such as a FitBit. He also hopes this research will aid him in his dream of creating a productive activity tracker that women will actually use and feel good using.

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