Honors Theses

Date of Award

5-7-2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Carol Britson

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

Health professionals consider improper posture as a risk factor for musculoskeletal disorders, chronic pain, and additional health issues. The chief aim of my study was to investigate links between poor posture and health, particularly in college students. To collect data regarding postural health, I distributed an exploratory survey to Human Anatomy and Physiology II (BISC 207) students at the University of Mississippi in Spring 2018. Students reported significant concern with quality of personal posture and significant experience with negative side effects of poor posture. Results demonstrated a need for postural education, leading to phase 2 of my experiment, the evaluation of the Upright Go wearable posture training device in improving user posture. The Upright Go development team claims the device provides an efficient and comfortable method to improve postural health. This insight into student experience and information on the Upright Go allowed me to generate the second phase of my experiment and create testable hypotheses: (1) the Upright Go device will work to prevent back slouch, thus reducing mean percent of time slouching in students and (2) improved postural health can physiologically influence neuroendocrine responses, such as decreased cortisol levels. Upright Go devices were used on the Human Anatomy & Physiology I (BISC 206) volunteers during laboratory periods of the fall 2018 semester. The second phase of my study began with an intake survey given to BISC 206 students in fall 2018. Results indicated students had significant postural issues and verified that these students were willing to try the Upright Go device. The Upright Go experiment involved four experimental groups: no treatment, text reminders to correct posture, Upright Go in tracking mode, and Upright Go in tracking and training mode. Over the course of treatment sessions, all volunteers provided three saliva samples. Samples were frozen and tested for cortisol levels using an Eagle Biosciences ELISA kit. To analyze the effectiveness of the Upright Go device, I used a 2-way ANOVA to evaluate the mean percent of time slouching as recorded by the Upright Go device. This data did not differ significantly between sessions and groups (F = 2.83, d.f. = 2, p = 0.085). Results from a 2-way ANOVA also indicate that there were no significant changes in salivary cortisol levels between experimental groups (F = 1.23; d.f. = 3; p = 0.302) or treatment sessions (F = 0.21; d.f. = 2; p = 0.813). To evaluate student perceived postural improvement, I distributed an exit survey to students. The majority of experimental group 2 participants indicated no substantial postural improvement. All experimental group 3 students noticed a substantial improvement in posture. Three students in experimental group 4 noticed substantial postural improvement and group 4’s Upright Go data demonstrates a decreasing percent of time slouching with each treatment session. Students predominantly found the Upright Go device to be comfortable and effective. The majority of exit survey questions for experimental groups 2, 3, and 4 yielded observable trends in results, yet most of these trends were not statistically significant. The small sample sizes in these groups limited the statistical power of Upright Go data and exit survey results. Overall, exit survey results demonstrate that this study has produced a positive, significant change in student awareness of proper postural management. A larger and longer-term study is necessary to fully evaluate the Upright Go device and the effect that improved posture may have on salivary cortisol levels.

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