Tyler Prochnow, PhD is an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University. His research interests include the social dynamics which drive health behavior. Tyler has done work with local Boys & Girls Clubs, health districts, gaming communities, and other research projects to better understand how social connections impact physical activity and mental health.
PhD - Health Promotion, 2021
MEd - Educational Leadership, 2015
BS - Exercise Science, 2013
Pregnancy is a unique time when physicians have more regular contact with women. Using this time to more fully understand the social influences at play can provide physicians an opportunity to leverage networks to improve health and wellbeing while stemming the exposure to health misinformation. Advocating for supportive social networks or exercise groups/programs can provide additional support and behavioral reinforcement which is needed for sustained behavior change. In this manner, fostering these networks is likely more beneficial to supporting healthy exercise behavior during pregnancy than education alone.
Low-income communities often have fewer quality community-level physical activity places (PAPs) or resources (e.g., parks, playgrounds). When present, barriers like traffic, distance, and crime often prevent access. Creative solutions and better understanding of current and potential realistic PAPs are necessary for children and families to be active. Streets are rarely considered potential PAPs despite their ubiquity and accessibility. This article describes street segments as potential PAPs in low-income Mexican-heritage colonias communities along the Texas-Mexico border. Promotora-researchers conducted modified PAP assessments to describe the availability and quality of physical activity features, amenities, and incivilities of all street segments (n=867) in two low-income colonias regions along the Texas-Mexico border. Streets in these communities did contain features and amenities associated with physical activity promotion. On average, street segments had 6.10 (SD=7.20) physical activity-promoting features, 26.60 (SD=27.30) physical activity-promoting amenities, and both were assessed as good-to-fair quality. Future physical activity programming should consider incorporating streets as potential PAPs to enhance physical activity and active play. Further, evaluating streets as PAPs in this way may provide insight into locations for temporary place-based programs such as Play Streets. Future research should also examine residents’ perceptions of their streets as PAPs for safe physical activity and active play, not just as places to walk, and which PAP characteristics matter for safe physical activity and active play to occur on streets.
Adolescent physical activity (PA) is significantly impacted by peer behaviors through peer influence, peer selection, and popularity. However, the scales for these social constructs may not fully capture the detailed social networks and mechanisms responsible for PA behavior changes. This level of detail and granularity can be quantified and analyzed through social network analysis (SNA). To demonstrate the variety, utility, and efficacy of SNA in adolescent PA research, this article aims to provide four case studies on the collection of social network and PA data on ethnically and racially diverse adolescents. Through case studies, this article provides tangible ways in which SNA can be used to evaluate social influences on PA behaviors. Case studies are presented on: (1) Youth Engagement in Sport—an egocentric analysis of middle school youth participation in an experiential sport program with 3- and 6-month follow-ups; (2) Summer care program networks—an egocentric and whole network longitudinal study of adolescents at summer care programs; (3) The Convoy method—a qualitative egocentric discussion activity with adolescents from colonias on the Texas-Mexico border; and (4) A father-focused, family-centered health program—an egocentric experimental analysis of children participating in a health program. Data collection procedures are listed and example surveys are provided. Descriptive analyses are included, as are recommendations on further analysis techniques for each type of network data. Using SNA, researchers can understand social contexts in a more specific manner, better positioning interventions to alter such influences.
Physical activity (PA) is essential for physical, mental, and emotional health; however, few adults engage in enough PA. Group exercise environments such as CrossFit can promote sustained exercise habits through social influence, support, and norms. This cross-sectional study aims to provide evidence for PA social influence at CrossFit. CrossFit members (n = 62) reported PA, workout logging frequency, and members at their gym they: (1) work out with and (2) go to with personal matters. Separate linear network autocorrelation models (LNAMs) determined if individuals reported similar PA scores as those of their social ties at CrossFit that they work out with and/or those they go to for personal matters. Participants reported a mean of 2740.55 MET minutes/week (SD = 1847.08), working out with a mean of 9.89 members (SD = 6.26), and speaking to a mean of 2.66 members about personal matters (SD = 3.68). A person’s PA was significantly associated with that of their ties they go to with personal matters (PEp = 0.08, SEp = 0.02), but was not associated with the PA of their ties they work out with (PEw = 0.02, SEw = 0.01). Social influence on PA levels was present when a deeper connection is made between members. Fostering and promoting deeper connections between members may help promote PA and continued exercise habits.
Video games are becoming part of everyday life for Americans despite public health concerns for social isolation and depressive symptoms (DS). Preliminary studies show gamers may be compensating for a lack of in-real-life (IRL) support with online connections. This study uses longitudinal social network analysis to investigate the social structure of an online gaming site and how factors such as social support, sense of community, and DS relate to communication dynamics. Members (n=40) of an online gaming site reported online and IRL support, sense of community, DS, and usernames of other members whom they spoke to about important life matters. Results suggest IRL and online social support, sense of community, and DS significantly influenced changes in the online gaming network structure over time. These results are especially timely given the social isolation and mental health impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic suggesting that online connectivity could be a remedy during times of socially isolation. Exploring how to healthfully build these online connections through gaming may be an avenue for greater social support when IRL social support is not present.