An exploration of factors related to dissemination of and exposure to internet-delivered behavior change interventions aimed at adults: A Delphi study approach
Background: The Internet is an attractive medium for delivering individualized, computer-tailored behavior change interventions to large numbers of people. However, the actual numbers of people reached seem to fall behind the high expectations. Insight into factors that determine use of and exposure to these Internet interventions is important to be able to increase the reach and improve exposure. Objective: The aim was to identify potentially important factors that determine whether adults visit an Internet-delivered behavior change intervention, extend their visit, and revisit the intervention. Methods: A systematic, three-round Delphi study was conducted among national and international experts from Internet intervention research and practice, e-marketing/e-commerce, Web design, and technical website development. In the first round, 30 experts completed a structured, open-ended online questionnaire assessing factors that were, in their opinion, important for a first visit, an extended visit, a revisit and for effective promotion strategies. Based on the responses in this first questionnaire, a closed-ended online questionnaire was developed for use in the second round. A total of 233 experts were invited to complete this questionnaire. Median and interquartile deviation (IQD) scores were computed to calculate agreement and consensus on the importance of the factors. The factors for which no consensus was obtained (IQD > 1) were included in the third-round questionnaire. Factors with a median score of six or higher and with an IQD ≤ 1 were considered to be important. Results: Of the 62 experts invited for the first round, 30 completed the questionnaire (48% response rate); 93/233 experts completed the second-round questionnaire (40% response rate), and 59/88 completed the third round (67% response rate). Being motivated to visit an Internet intervention and perceiving the intervention as personally relevant appeared to be important factors related to a first visit. The provision of tailored feedback, relevant and reliable information, and an easy navigation structure were related to an extended visit. Provision of regular new content and the possibility to monitor personal progress toward behavior change were identified as important factors to encourage a revisit. Primarily traditional promotion strategies, like word-of-mouth by family and friends, a publicity campaign with simultaneous use of various mass media, and recommendation by health professionals, were indicated as effective ways to encourage adults to visit an Internet intervention. Conclusions: This systematic study identified important factors related to the dissemination of and exposure to Internet interventions aimed at adults. In order to improve optimal use of and exposure to Internet interventions, potential users may need to be motivated to visit such an intervention and the information provided needs to be personally relevant. Furthermore, several (technical) aspects of the intervention itself need to be taken into account when developing Internet interventions.