Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Health and Kinesiology


Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management

First Advisor

Martha Bass

Second Advisor

Noel E. Wilkin

Third Advisor

Scott Owens

Relational Format



In health-related behavioral decision-making, the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) posits that attitudes toward a behavior are the function of three metrics: beliefs and strengths of beliefs toward the behavior, subjective norms around the behavior and locus of control for the individual (Ajzen, 1988). The purpose of this research was to identify the extent to which consumers would accept the recommendation of taking weight-loss medications, based on the source of the recommendation. Research shows that the source of knowledge for information plays a significant role in health-related decision-making of consumers (Pornpitakpan, 2004). In comparison to traditional weight-loss methods such as diet and exercise, research studies report bias' against the use of prescription (Rx) and over-the counter (OTC) weight-loss medications among both physicians (MD) and certified personal trainers (CPT) (Ashworth, 2002; Holcomb, 2012). Given the current obesity epidemic in the United States (CDC, 2013), the research model examined two different sources of knowledge for weight-loss medications (MD versus CPT). The objective of the study was to examine the influence each source (MD and CPT) had on consumer-based decision-making, and the extent to which each source altered consumers' intention to try a weight-loss medication. The internet-based research company, Research Now®, administered the on-line survey instrument to qualifying participants (N=168), and collected data for the treatment interventions. Subjects who qualified for the treatment completed a validated questionnaire that collected data on attitudes about physicians, certified personal trainers, types of weight-loss medications (Rx and OTC) (Petty and Cacioppo, 1983, 1986; Sewak, 2002, Sewak, et al., 2005). All eight story-based treatment scenarios were randomly assigned, and given to all participants. Statistical analysis consisted of a 2x2x2 design (ANOVA). Analyses of source of information and type of weight-loss medication were crossed with source of information communication type (positive versus negative) in each scenario. Null hypotheses were rejected (H1 - H8). As expected, the physician was the over-all stronger source. However, positive CPT communication and higher credibility score, led to an increase in intention. This is a significant finding. If consumers perceive CPTs to be as knowledgeable as MDs (outside of CPT expertise in exercise planning, prescription, and training); consumers would view CPTs as a credible, reliable, and alternative source for weight-loss related areas of interest and concern.

Included in

Public Health Commons



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