Evaluation of a Web-based intervention providing tailored advice for self-management of minor respiratory symptoms: exploratory randomized controlled trial.
ABSTRACT There has been relatively little research on the role of web-based support for self-care in the management of minor, acute symptoms, in contrast to the wealth of recent research into Internet interventions to support self-management of long-term conditions.
This study was designed as an evaluation of the usage and effects of the "Internet Doctor" website providing tailored advice on self-management of minor respiratory symptoms (eg, cough, sore throat, fever, runny nose), in preparation for a definitive trial of clinical effectiveness. The first aim was to evaluate the effects of using the Internet Doctor webpages on patient enablement and use of health services, to test whether the tailored, theory-based advice provided by the Internet Doctor was superior to providing a static webpage providing the best existing patient information (the control condition). The second aim was to gain an understanding of the processes that might mediate any change in intentions to consult the doctor, by comparing changes in relevant beliefs and illness perceptions in the intervention and control groups, and by analyzing usage of the Internet Doctor webpages and predictors of intention change.
Participants (N = 714) completed baseline measures of beliefs about their symptoms and self-care online, and were then automatically randomized to the Internet Doctor or control group. These measures were completed again by 332 participants after 48 hours. Four weeks later, 214 participants completed measures of enablement and health service use.
The Internet Doctor resulted in higher levels of satisfaction than the control information (mean 6.58 and 5.86, respectively; P = .002) and resulted in higher levels of enablement a month later (median 3 and 2, respectively; P = .03). Understanding of illness improved in the 48 hours following use of the Internet Doctor webpages, whereas it did not improve in the control group (mean change from baseline 0.21 and -0.06, respectively, P = .05). Decline in intentions to consult the doctor between baseline and follow-up was predicted by age (beta = .10, P= .003), believing before accessing the website that consultation was necessary for recovery (beta = .19, P < .001), poor understanding of illness (beta = .11, P = .004), emotional reactions to illness (beta = .15, P <.001), and use of the Diagnostic section of the Internet Doctor website (beta = .09, P = .007).
Our findings provide initial evidence that tailored web-based advice could help patients self-manage minor symptoms to a greater extent. These findings constitute a sound foundation and rationale for future research. In particular, our study provides the evidence required to justify carrying out much larger trials in representative population samples comparing tailored web-based advice with routine care, to obtain a definitive evaluation of the impact on self-management and health service use.
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ABSTRACT: We evaluated the advice given by a prototype self-assessment triage system in a university student health centre. Students attending the health centre with a new problem used the automated self-assessment system prior to a face-to-face consultation with the general practitioner (GP). The system's rating of urgency was available to the GP, and following the consultation, the GP recorded their own rating of the urgency of the patient's presentation. Full data were available for 154 of the 207 consultations. Perfect agreement, where both the GP and the self-assessment system selected the same category of advice, occurred in 39% of consultations. The association between the GP assessment and the self-assessment rankings of urgency was low but significant (rho = 0.19, P = 0.016). The self-assessment system tended to be risk averse compared to the GP assessments, with advice for more urgent level of care seeking being recommended in 86 consultations (56%) and less urgent advice in only 8 (5%). This difference in assessment of urgency was significant (P < 0.001). The agreement between self-assessed and GP-assessed urgency was not associated with symptom site or socio-demographic characteristics of the user. Although the self-assessment system was more risk averse than the GPs, which resulted in a high proportion of patients being triaged as needing emergency or immediate care, the self-assessment system successfully identified a proportion of patients who were felt by the GP to have a self-limiting condition that did not need a consultation. In its prototype form, the self-assessment system was not a replacement for clinician assessment and further refinement is necessary.Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare 03/2014; · 1.74 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Internet-based health behaviour interventions have variable effects on health-related outcomes. Effectiveness may be improved by optimizing the design of interventions. This study examined the specific effect on engagement of providing two different design features - tailoring and self-assessment. Three versions of an Internet-delivered intervention to support the self-care of mild bowel problems were developed that provided (1) self-assessment without tailored feedback, (2) self-assessment with tailored feedback, and (3) generic information only. A qualitative study explored participants' engagement with each version of the intervention (N = 24). A larger quantitative study systematically compared participants' use of the intervention and self-reported engagement using a partial factorial design (n = 178). Findings from the qualitative study suggested that self-assessment without tailored feedback appeared to be less acceptable to participants because it was viewed as offering no personal benefit in the absence of personalized advice. In the quantitative study, self-assessment without tailored feedback was associated with greater dropout than when provided in conjunction with tailored feedback. There were significant group differences in participants' engagement with the intervention and perceptions of the intervention. Self-assessment without tailored feedback was rated as marginally less engaging and was associated with fewer positive perceptions than the generic information condition. The acceptability of self-assessment or monitoring components may be optimized by also providing tailored feedback. Without tailored feedback, these components do not appear to be any more engaging than generic information provision. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? Digital interventions can be effective for improving a range of health outcomes and behaviours. There is huge variation in the success of different interventions using different combinations of design features. What does this study add? This study used a systematic experimental design to identify the effect on engagement of providing interactive intervention design features alone and in combination. Intervention engagement was better when self-assessment was provided in conjunction with tailored feedback.British Journal of Health Psychology 12/2013; · 2.70 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: To reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance, there is a pressing need for worldwide implementation of effective interventions to promote more prudent prescribing of antibiotics for acute LRTI. This study is a process analysis of the GRACE/INTRO trial of a multifactorial intervention that reduced antibiotic prescribing for acute LRTI in six European countries. The aim was to understand how the interventions were implemented and to examine effects of the interventions on general practitioners' (GPs') and patients' attitudes. GPs were cluster randomised to one of three intervention groups or a control group. The intervention groups received web-based training in either use of the C-reactive protein (CRP) test, communication skills and use of a patient booklet, or training in both. GP attitudes were measured before and after the intervention using constructs from the Theory of Planned Behaviour and a Website Satisfaction Questionnaire. Effects of the interventions on patients were assessed by a post-intervention questionnaire assessing patient enablement, satisfaction with the consultation, and beliefs about the risks and need for antibiotics. GPs in all countries and intervention groups had very positive perceptions of the intervention and the web-based training, and felt that taking part had helped them to reduce prescribing. All GPs perceived reducing prescribing as more important and less risky following the intervention, and GPs in the communication groups reported increased confidence to reduce prescribing. Patients in the communication groups who received the booklet reported the highest levels of enablement and satisfaction and had greater awareness that antibiotics could be unnecessary and harmful. Our findings suggest that the interventions should be broadly acceptable to both GPs and patients, as well as feasible to roll out more widely across Europe. There are also some indications that they could help to engender changes in GP and patient attitudes that will be helpful in the longer-term, such as increased awareness of the potential disadvantages of antibiotics and increased confidence to manage LRTI without them. Given the positive effects of the booklet on patient beliefs and attitudes, it seems logical to extend the use of the patient booklet to all patients.Implementation Science 11/2013; 8(1):134. · 3.47 Impact Factor