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Open Access Research article

Consumers’ intention to use health recommendation systems to receive personalized nutrition advice

Sonja Wendel1, Benedict GC Dellaert2*, Amber Ronteltap3 and Hans CM van Trijp4

Author Affiliations

1 NIVEL, Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, P.O. Box 15683500BN, Utrecht, the Netherlands

2 Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam, P.O. Box 17383000, DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands

3 LEI Consument & Gedrag, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 81306700, EW Wageningen, the Netherlands

4 Marketing and Consumer Behavior Group, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 81306700, EW Wageningen, the Netherlands

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:126  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-126

Published: 4 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Sophisticated recommendation systems are used more and more in the health sector to assist consumers in healthy decision making. In this study we investigate consumers' evaluation of hypothetical health recommendation systems that provide personalized nutrition advice. We examine consumers' intention to use such a health recommendation system as a function of options related to the underlying system (e.g. the type of company that generates the advice) as well as intermediaries (e.g. general practitioner) that might assist in using the system. We further explore if the effect of both the system and intermediaries on intention to use a health recommendation system are mediated by consumers' perceived effort, privacy risk, usefulness and enjoyment.

Methods

204 respondents from a consumer panel in the Netherlands participated. The data were collected by means of a questionnaire. Each respondent evaluated three hypothetical health recommendation systems on validated multi-scale measures of effort, privacy risk, usefulness, enjoyment and intention to use the system. To test the hypothesized relationships we used regression analyses.

Results

We find evidence that the options related to the underlying system as well as the intermediaries involved influence consumers' intention to use such a health recommendation system and that these effects are mediated by perceptions of effort, privacy risk, usefulness and enjoyment. Also, we find that consumers value usefulness of a system more and enjoyment less when a general practitioner advices them to use a health recommendation system than if they use it out of their own curiosity.

Conclusions

We developed and tested a model of consumers' intention to use a health recommendation system. We found that intermediaries play an important role in how consumers evaluate such a system over and above options of the underlying system that is used to generate the recommendation. Also, health-related information services seem to rely on endorsement by the medical sector. This has considerable implications for the distribution as well as the communication channels of health recommendation systems which may be quite difficult to put into practice outside traditional health service channels.