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All Computer-Tailored Online Health Interventions are Not Created Equal

Mia Liza Lustria, Juliann Cortese, Linda Brown, Rick Davis, Victoria Mahabi, Beom Jun Bae and Kristina Plotnikova

(Submission #61)


Tailored health interventions have been found to be effective in helping patients better manage their health, reduce their risk for particular diseases, and engage in healthy behaviors. Advances in computing have enabled us to engage in more powerful tailoring by facilitating assessment of patient needs, health behaviors and stages of change; and then enabling the generation of individualized feedback. Powerful computer algorithms have allowed more sophisticated tailoring based on a number of criteria and have facilitated the creation of individualized messages to the level of text. The value of these advances is hinged on the assumption that greater personalization increases patient engagement in the health messages, and this, in turn, can make individuals more receptive to persuasion efforts. Despite reported success of computer-tailored health interventions delivered over the Web, the methods by which this is achieved and its effects on health outcomes, is still poorly understood. The study presented here is a systematic review of articles focusing on the efficacy of Internet-based health interventions. We were particularly interested in understanding how tailoring has been operationalized, the variables used to tailor information on, and whether or not there is a relationship between computer-tailoring methods and success on patient outcomes. Our findings indicate that computer tailoring falls into two major categories: health or risk assessments and computer-tailored content/personalized programs. Our research also indicated that several variables are used to guide tailored content, the most common being health behaviors and stages of change. In terms of outcomes, we noted that successful interventions may rely on a combination of the variables used to tailor, health focus, and length of the intervention. Our ability to fully optimize the use of computer-tailoring will depend on the development of clearer guidelines for tailoring for a variety of populations, health foci, health behaviors and situations.


[Paper (DOC)]  

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