Open Access Study protocol

Online Pestkoppenstoppen: systematic and theory-based development of a web-based tailored intervention for adolescent cyberbully victims to combat and prevent cyberbullying

Niels CL Jacobs*, Trijntje Völlink, Francine Dehue and Lilian Lechner

Author Affiliations

Faculty of Psychology, Open University, Valkenburgerweg 177, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:396  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-396

Published: 24 April 2014



The purpose of this article is to give an integrative insight into the theoretical and empirical-based development of the Online Pestkoppenstoppen (Stop Bullies Online/Stop Online Bullies). This intervention aims to reduce the number of cyberbully victims and their symptoms of depression and anxiety (program goal), by teaching cyberbully victims how to cope in an adequate and effective manner with cyberbully incidents (program’s outcomes).


In developing the program the different steps of the Intervention Mapping protocol are systematically used. In this article we describe each step of Intervention Mapping. Sources used for the development were a literature review, a Delphi study among experts, focus group interviews with the target group, and elements from a proven effective anti-bullying program. The result is a fully automated web-based tailored intervention for cyberbully victims (12-15 years) consisting of three web-based advice sessions delivered over three months. The first advice aims to teach participants how behavior is influenced by the thoughts they have, how to recognize and dispute irrational thoughts and how to form rational thoughts. In the second advice, participants will learn about the way bullying emerges, how their behavior influences bullying and how they can use effective coping strategies in order to stop (online) bullying. In the third advice, participants receive feedback and will learn how to use the Internet and mobile phones in a safe manner. Each advice is tailored to the participant’s personal characteristics (e.g., personality, self-efficacy, coping strategies used and (ir)rational thoughts). To ensure implementation of the program after testing it for effectiveness, the intervention was pretested in the target-population and an implementation plan was designed. Finally, we will elaborate on the planned randomized controlled trial in which the intervention will be compared to a general information group and waiting list control group. This evaluation will provide insight into the intervention’s efficacy to reduce cyberbullying and its negative effects.


Intervention Mapping is a time consuming but profound way to ensure that each step of developing an intervention is taken, and resulted in three web-based tailored pieces of advices that teach adolescents how to cope more effectively with cyberbullying experiences.

Trial registration

NTR3613, 14-09-2012

(Cyber) bullying; Intervention; Web-based; E-health; Computer tailoring; Behavior change; Intervention Mapping