Study: Interactive, tailored web content may improve patient health, knowledge

By Aditi Pai

Webbased tailored studyOffering interactive web-based content that is personalized for a patient may increase the patient's knowledge of their condition and reduce their incidence of negative effects, according to a study conducted by researchers in the Department of Medical Psychology at Germany-based University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.

The study, a randomized control trial of 561 people with either type 2 diabetes or chronic back pain, was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Researchers recruited 179 people with type 2 diabetes and 382 that had chronic back pain. They then split the participants into an intervention group and control group. The intervention group received a web-based interactive health communication application (IHCA), which offered decision support, social support, and behavioral change support. The IHCA participants received content as part of an interactive health dialogue.

Meanwhile, researchers provided the control group with a content tree without any personalization. Both groups were given the same content. The participants with diabetes received basic information on the condition, what conditions type 2 diabetes could lead to, health behavior and lifestyle changes, and treatment options. The chronic lower back pain content covered basic information about the condition, related psychological problems, diagnostic procedures, and treatment options.

The participants filled out a questionnaire when they first started the study, one month into the study, and three months into the study.

The researchers found that usage of the web-based resources was higher in the intervention group, which used the offering for an average of 51.2 minutes, while the control group used their resource for an average of 37.6 minutes. Participants in the intervention group were more knowledgeable about their condition after the first month and showed more "emotional well-being" at the three month follow up.

A few months ago, health app intervention developer ORCAS published results from study that found a mobile intervention, called FitBack, that personalizes health content for the user is an effective tool to help patients improve their nonspecific lower back pain (NLBP). ORCAS’ alternative treatment is powered by an app that tracks the user’s pain levels and helps them follow a pain-management program. Users receive in-app video and text messages that guide the user through strategies to manage and prevent pain. The app also factors in the user’s occupation — whether users sit, stand, drive, or lift while working. FitBack syncs with a Fitbit to record activity.