UBC Undergraduate Research

Stairway To A Healthy Lifestyle : Assessment of stair wrap interventions at UBC Macneil, Delaney; MacDonald, Heather Anne; Kim, Sunwon Jessica; Pan, Susanna; McArdle, Marne


Nudges can be used to alter lifestyle choices and encourage daily physical activity (PA). Communication materials and art positioned around stairs may be an effective intervention in encouraging campus-users to take the stairs. This project attempts to explore the impact of stair wraps as a PA intervention. The hope is to encourage individuals to choose to take the stairs instead of easier alternatives to promote physical activity behaviours. A survey was conducted to test the effectiveness of stair wraps or if there is a particular type of installation that promotes the utilization of stairs more. A mixed method survey of qualitative and quantitative questions targeting University of British Columbia (UBC)’s students, faculty, and staff was used to study stair use in two buildings, the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre (IKB) and the Nest, that have high foot traffic density from people of different backgrounds and faculties. The survey was accessible and shared online to UBC students, faculty, and staff, as well as administered in-person at the IKB and the Nest. However, challenges associated with self-reported data such as surveys include response bias and a tendency for participants to “over report.” Survey questions asked were intended to determine what factors influence the decisions to use the stairs or elevator, if the pre-existing stair wraps in the Nest and the Scarfe building that were implemented were effective in promoting stair usage, and what other installations or suggestions would be effective to increase stage usage. With regards to the stair wraps that were installed in the Nest and the Scarfe building, participants noted the messaging, aesthetics, entertainment value, and accessibility were important factors for the stair wraps to be effective. Factors that hindered the effectiveness of the stair wraps were the lack of visibility and participants viewing it as a distraction and possible safety hazard. Participants’ suggestions to improve the stair wraps are as follows; better messaging, more colours, and adding art to increase the aesthetics and entertainment value. The pre-existing stair wrap initiative can be improved by adding messages aligning with the interest of the UBC community to increase extrinsic motivation. Designing the stair wraps to be more aesthetically pleasing or “instagrammable” can lead to trends and increased sharing on social media and other online platforms. However, based on results, participants indicated a stair wrap was the least favorable installation to promote stair usage. The installation of a fun interactive technology was the most popular, with artwork installation being a close second. Interactive stairs such as the social stairs and piano stairs have been successful global installations that have shown an increase in stair usage. Though it would require further research with regards to the technology used, the design and creation of the structures, and the optimal location of the technology, installation of a fun interactive staircase may be the most effective to promote stair usage. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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