User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction

, Volume 21, Issue 4–5, pp 341–376

Motivating reflection about health within the family: the use of goal setting and tailored feedback

Original Paper


It is widely acknowledged that obesity is a serious health issue. Despite governments’ campaigns and initiatives to raise the level of awareness, the proportion of adults classified as overweight or obese is increasing steadily. As a result, there has been a growing interest in Human Computer Interaction and User Modelling to study how to support health behaviour change. While most of the work to date has focused on individuals, medical research has shown that family engagement plays an important role on health behaviour. To consider the family context, we are developing technology that facilitates health discussions and encourages supportive behaviour within the family. We investigate how to motivate members of a family to reflect upon their lifestyle and think of ways in which they can make it healthier. In particular, we have looked at whether providing explicit goals and tailored feedback can have an impact. During a two week trial with families in which we explored these strategies, we found that setting a collective goal for the family influenced how much the family as a whole contributed, and that feedback increased significantly mothers’ participation. Our results also suggest that establishing a family goal encouraged families to work together and, in particular, to help each other find ways to be healthier. Finally, 76% of participants reported discussing the task with someone in their family, and, also discussing it together as a family (57%).


Motivation strategies Goal setting theory Lifestyle and wellbeing Family support Health behaviour Evaluation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIRO – ICT CentreEppingAustralia

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