, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 205-223

A systematic review of randomized trials on the effectiveness of computer-tailored education on physical activity and dietary behaviors

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Background: Although computer-tailored promotion of dietary change and physical activity has been identified as a promising intervention strategy, there is a need for a more systematic evaluation of the evidence.Purpose: This study systematically reviews the scientific literature on computer-tailored physical activity and nutrition education.Methods: Intervention studies published from 1965 up to September 2004 were identified through a structured search in PubMed, PsycInfo, and Web of Science and an examination of reference lists of relevant publications. Studies were included that applied a pretest-post-test randomized-controlled trial design, were aimed at primary prevention among adults, used computer-tailored interventions to change physical activity and dietary behaviors, and were published in English. The search resulted in 30 publications— 11 on physical activity behaviors and 26 on nutrition behaviors, some studies investigated multiple behaviors.Results: Three of 11 of the physical activity studies and 20 of 26 of the nutrition studies found significant effects of the tailored interventions. The evidence was most consistent for tailored interventions on fat reduction.Conclusions: Overall, there seems to be potential for the application of computer tailoring for promoting healthy diets, but more research is needed to test computer-tailored interventions against other state-of-the-art intervention techniques and to identify the mechanisms underlying successful computer tailoring.

The contribution of Willemieke Kroeze was made possible by a grant from ZonMW, The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development. The contribution of Andrea Werkman was made possible by a grant from the Netherlands Heart Foundation (2000T005).