Effects of tailoring health messages on physical activity
Computer-tailored printed education can be a promising way of promoting physical activity. The present study tested whether computer-tailored feedback on physical activity is effective and whether there are differences between respondents with low and high motivation to change. Respondents (n = 487) were randomly assigned to a tailored intervention group or a no information control group. Physical activity and determinants were measured at baseline and after 3 months. At post-test, the motivated respondents in the control group were more likely not to meet the recommendation for physical activity than to meet it, and motivated respondents in the experimental group were more likely to engage in transport-related activities and showed more improvement over time for the total activity score than respondents in the control group (β = 0.24, P = 0.02). Both groups improved their behaviour over time. No group differences in physical activity were found for the unmotivated respondents. The results showed that the effects of the tailored feedback were restricted to respondents who had a positive motivation to change at baseline. Possible explanations could be that unmotivated respondents were unwilling to read and process the information because they felt 'no need to change'. Alternatively, one tailored feedback letter may not have been sufficient for this unmotivated group.