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Open Access Study protocol

Testing a Dutch web-based tailored lifestyle programme among adults: a study protocol

Daniela N Schulz12*, Stef PJ Kremers13, Liesbeth ADM van Osch12, Francine Schneider12, Mathieu JG van Adrichem12 and Hein de Vries12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Promotion, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands

2 School for Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI), Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

3 Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute Maastricht (NUTRIM), Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:108  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-108

Published: 16 February 2011

Abstract

Background

Smoking, high alcohol consumption, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity often lead to (chronic) diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Tailored online interventions have been proven to be effective in changing health behaviours. The aim of this study is to test and compare the effectiveness of two different tailoring strategies for changing lifestyle compared to a control group using a multiple health behaviour web-based approach.

Methods

In our Internet-based tailored programme, the five lifestyle behaviours of smoking, alcohol intake, fruit consumption, vegetable consumption, and physical activity are addressed. This randomized controlled trial, conducted among Dutch adults, includes two experimental groups (i.e., a sequential behaviour tailoring condition and a simultaneous behaviour tailoring condition) and a control group. People in the sequential behaviour tailoring condition obtain feedback on whether their lifestyle behaviours meet the Dutch recommendations. Using a step-by-step approach, they are stimulated to continue with a computer tailored module to change only one unhealthy behaviour first. In the course of the study, they can proceed to change a second behaviour. People in the simultaneous behaviour tailoring condition receive computer tailored feedback about all their unhealthy behaviours during their first visit as a stimulation to change all unhealthy behaviours. The experimental groups can re-visit the website and can then receive ipsative feedback (i.e., current scores are compared to previous scores in order to give feedback about potential changes). The (difference in) effectiveness of the different versions of the programme will be tested and compared to a control group, in which respondents only receive a short health risk appraisal. Programme evaluations will assess satisfaction with and appreciation and personal relevance of the intervention among the respondents. Finally, potential subgroup differences pertaining to gender, age and socioeconomic status regarding the behaviour effects and programme evaluation will be assessed.

Discussion

Research regarding multiple behaviour change is in its infancy. We study how to offer multiple behaviour change interventions optimally. Using these results could strengthen the effectiveness of web-based computer-tailoring lifestyle programmes. This study will yield new results about the need for differential lifestyle approaches using Internet-based expert systems and potential differences in subgroups concerning the effectiveness and appreciation.

Trial registration

Dutch Trial Register NTR2168.