There are many online interventions aiming for health behavior change but it is unclear how such interventions and specific planning tools are being used. Objective: The aim of this study is to identify which user characteristics were associated with use of an online, computer-tailored self-regulation intervention aimed at prevention of weight gain; and to examine the quality of the goals and action plans that were generated using the online planning tools. Methods: Data were obtained with a randomized controlled effect evaluation trial in which the online computer-tailored intervention was compared to a website containing generic information about prevention of weight gain. The tailored intervention included self-regulation techniques such as personalized feedback, goal setting, action planning, monitoring, and other techniques aimed at weight management. Participants included 539 overweight adults (mean age 46.9 years, mean body mass index [BMI] 28.03 kg/m2, 31.2% male, 11% low education level) recruited from the general population. Use of the intervention and its planning tools were derived from server registration data. Physical activity, fat intake, motivational factors, and self-regulation skills were self-reported at baseline. Descriptive analyses and logistic regression analyses were used to analyze the results. Results: Use of the tailored intervention decreased sharply after the first modules. Visiting the first tailored intervention module was more likely among participants with low levels of fat intake (OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.62-0.95) or planning for change in PA (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.05-0.97). Revisiting the intervention was more likely among participants high in restrained eating (OR 2.45, 95% CI 1.12-5.43) or low in proactive coping skills for weight control (OR 0.28, 95% CI 0.10-0.76). The planning tools were used by 5%-55% of the participants, but only 20%-75% of the plans were of good quality. Conclusions: This study showed that psychological factors such as self-regulation skills and action planning were associated with repeated use of an online, computer-tailored self-regulation intervention aimed at prevention of weight gain among adults being overweight. Use of the intervention was not optimal, with a limited number of participants who visited all the intervention modules. The use of the action and coping planning components of the intervention was mediocre and the quality of the generated plans was low, especially for the coping plans. It is important to identify how the use of action planning and coping planning components in online interventions can be promoted and how the quality of plans generated through these tools can be improved.

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Journal of Medical Internet Research
Department of Public Health

van Genugten, L., van Empelen, P., & Oenema, A. (2014). Intervention use and action planning in a web-based computer-tailored weight management program for overweight adults: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16(7). doi:10.2196/resprot.2599