Comparison of Trial Participants and Open Access Users of a Web-Based Physical Activity Intervention Regarding Adherence, Attrition, and Repeated Participation

Swiss Federal Institute of Sport Magglingen, Magglingen, Switzerland.
Journal of Medical Internet Research (Impact Factor: 3.43). 02/2010; 12(1):e3. DOI: 10.2196/jmir.1361
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Web-based interventions are popular for promoting healthy lifestyles such as physical activity. However, little is known about user characteristics, adherence, attrition, and predictors of repeated participation on open access physical activity websites.
The focus of this study was Active-online, a Web-based individually tailored physical activity intervention. The aims were (1) to assess and compare user characteristics and adherence to the website (a) in the open access context over time from 2003 to 2009, and (b) between trial participants and open access users; and (2) to analyze attrition and predictors of repeated use among participants in a randomized controlled trial compared with registered open access users.
Data routinely recorded in the Active-online user database were used. Adherence was defined as: the number of pages viewed, the proportion of visits during which a tailored module was begun, the proportion of visits during which tailored feedback was received, and the time spent in the tailored modules. Adherence was analyzed according to six one-year periods (2003-2009) and according to the context (trial or open access) based on first visits and longest visits. Attrition and predictors of repeated participation were compared between trial participants and open access users.
The number of recorded visits per year on Active-online decreased from 42,626 in 2003-2004 to 8343 in 2008-2009 (each of six one-year time periods ran from April 23 to April 22 of the following year). The mean age of users was between 38.4 and 43.1 years in all time periods and both contexts. The proportion of women increased from 49.5% in 2003-2004 to 61.3% in 2008-2009 (P< .001). There were differences but no consistent time trends in adherence to Active-online. The mean age of trial participants was 43.1 years, and 74.9% were women. Comparing contexts, adherence was highest for registered open access users. For open access users, adherence was similar during the first and the longest visits; for trial participants, adherence was lower during the first visits and higher during the longest visits. Of registered open access users and trial participants, 25.8% and 67.3% respectively visited Active-online repeatedly (P< .001). Predictors of repeated use were male sex (odds ratio [OR] = 1.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.04-1.38) and increasing age category in registered open access users, and age 46-60 versus < 30 years (OR = 3.04, 95% CI = 1.25-7.38) and Swiss nationality (OR(nonSwiss)= 0.64, 95% CI = 0.41-1.00) in trial participants. Despite reminder emails, attrition was much higher in registered open access users compared with trial participants, with a median lifetime website usage of 0 days in open access users and 290 days in trial participants.
Adherence, patterns of use, attrition, and repeated participation differed between trial participants and open access users. Reminder emails to encourage repeated participation were effective for trial participants but not for registered open access users. These issues are important when interpreting results of randomized controlled effectiveness trials.

4 Reads
  • Source
    • "Overall, findings suggest that adding reminders encourages sustained usage of intervention web sites [38-42]. However, the results are not unambiguous [43,44]. Further, to our knowledge, the possible benefit of tailored e-mail reminders supporting a self-directed mental health intervention in an adolescent sample has yet to be investigated. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (ICBT) is a promising approach to the prevention and reduction of depressive symptoms among adolescents. This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of disseminating a self-directed internet-based mental health intervention (MoodGYM) in senior high schools. It also sought to investigate possible effects of tailored and weekly e-mail reminders on initial uptake and adherence to the intervention. A baseline survey was conducted in four senior high schools in two Norwegian municipalities (n = 1337). 52.8% (707/1337) of the students consented to further participation in the trial and were randomly allocated to one of three MoodGYM intervention groups (tailored weekly e-mail reminder (n = 175), standardized weekly e-mail reminder (n = 176 ) or no e-mail reminder (n = 175)) or a waitlist control group (n = 180). We tested for effects of the intervention on depression and self-esteem using multivariate analysis of variance, effects of tailored e-mail and self-reported current need of help on initial uptake of the intervention using logistic regression and the effect of weekly e-mails on adherence using ordinal regression. There was substantial non-participation from the intervention, with only 8.5% (45/527) participants logging on to MoodGYM, and few proceeding beyond the first part of the programme. No significant effect on depression or self-esteem was found among the sample as a whole or among participants with elevated depression scores at baseline. Having a higher average grade in senior high school predicted initial uptake of the intervention, but tailored e-mail and self-reported current need of help did not. Weekly e-mail prompts did not predict adherence. The main reasons for non-use reported were lack of time/forgetting about it and doubt about the usefulness of the program. Overall, disseminating a self-directed internet-based intervention to a school population proved difficult despite steps taken to reduce barriers in terms of tailoring feedback and dispatching weekly e-mail reminders. Providing mental health interventions within the school environment is likely to ensure better uptake among senior high school students, but there is a need to effectively communicate that such programmes can be helpful.Trial registration: The trial was registered retrospectively as ACTRN12612001106820.
    BMC Psychiatry 01/2014; 14(1):14. DOI:10.1186/1471-244X-14-14 · 2.21 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "The retrospective nature of this study is a limitation; however, many people seeking to lose weight do so using largely self-guided approaches and the study of engagement and outcomes in these groups may not always be compatible with the additional intervention inherent in prospective studies, or the context of a trial [16]. The effects of paying for a weight loss service (as was the case for participants in this analysis) is not clear. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Internet provides a widely accessible platform for weight loss interventions. Automated tools can allow self-guided monitoring of food intake and other target behaviours that are established correlates of weight change. Many programmes also offer social support from the virtual community. The aim of this research was to assess associations between engagement with self-monitoring tools and social support, and weight loss in an online weight-control programme. This paper describes a retrospective analysis of weight change among 3621 subscribers to a commercial Internet-based weight loss programme. Participants were all subscribers (2979 women; 642 men) joining the programme between July 2005 and November 2008 with two or more recorded weights spanning at least 28 days of participation in the programme. Engagement was indexed with frequency of using online diet and exercise diaries and with use of the social support forums. Programme engagement was associated with weight loss in both men and women after controlling for initial BMI and duration of participation. The three engagement variables accounted for 13% of variance in percentage weight loss in women (p < .001) and 19% in men (p < .001). In analyses including all the engagement variables, exercise diary use was an independent predictor of weight loss among men, but non-significant in women. In contrast, use of the online forums was associated with weight loss in women but not in men. Among participants who were overweight or obese, those in the highest tertile of engagement with food diaries (vs the lowest) were more likely to achieve clinically significant (> 5%) weight loss (men: OR = 3.45 p < .001; women: OR = 5.05 p < .001). Being in the highest tertile of engagement with exercise diaries was associated with clinically significant weight loss in men (OR = 3.48 p < .001) and, less strongly, in women (OR = 1.46 p < .05). Use of self-monitoring tools and participation in online support are predictive of weight loss in the context of a commercial, online weight control programme.
    International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 08/2011; 8(1):83. DOI:10.1186/1479-5868-8-83 · 4.11 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "This paper focuses on the exploration of attrition. A number of other terms have been used for identical or related concepts, including "adherence", "compliance", "dosage", "usage behavior", "adoption", "uptake", "engagement", "retention", and "exposure" [2-11]. Various concrete factors have been mentioned by Eysenbach that may influence attrition, including appropriateness of information, ease of enrolment, ease of drop out, usability issues, "push" factors (e.g., reminders), positive feedback, observable advantages, paid intervention and other incentives, time commitment, competing interventions, external events competing for the participants' attention, peer communications/peer pressure, human contact, and experience of use [1]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Attrition, or nonuse of the intervention, is a significant problem in e-health. However, the reasons for this phenomenon are poorly understood. Building on Eysenbach's "Law of Attrition", this study aimed to explore the usage behavior of users of e-health services. We used two theoretical models, Andersen's Behavioral Model of Health Service Utilization and Venkatesh's Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology, to explore the factors associated with uptake and use of an internet-mediated intervention for caregivers taking care of a family member with dementia. A multiphase, longitudinal design was used to follow a convenience sample of 46 family caregivers who received an e-health intervention. Applying the two theories, usage behavior was conceptualized to form four stages: consideration, initiation, utilization (attrition or continuation), and outcome. The variables and measurement scales were selected based on these theories to measure the sociodemographic context, technology aptitudes, and clinical needs of the caregivers. In the Consideration Stage, caregivers who felt that the information communication technology (ICT)-mediated service was easy to use were more likely to consider participating in the study (p = 0.04). In the Initiation Stage, caregivers who showed greater technology acceptance were more likely to initiate service earlier (p = 0.02). In the Utilization Stage, the frequent users were those who had a more positive attitude toward technology (p = 0.04) and a lower perceived caregiver competence (p = 0.04) compared with nonusers. In the Outcome Stage, frequent users experienced a decline in perceived burden compared with an escalation of perceived burden by nonusers (p = 0.02). We illustrate a methodological framework describing how to develop and expand a theory on attrition. The proposed framework highlighted the importance of conceptualizing e-health "use" and "adoption" as dynamic, continuous, longitudinal processes occurring in different stages, influenced by different factors to predict advancement to the next stage. Although usage behavior was influenced mainly by technological factors in the initial stages, both clinical and technological factors were equally important in the later stages. Frequency of use was associated with positive clinical outcomes. A plausible explanation was that intervention benefits motivated the caregivers to continue the service and regular use led to more positive clinical outcome.
    BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 11/2010; 10(1):73. DOI:10.1186/1472-6947-10-73 · 1.83 Impact Factor
Show more