Background: Smartphone and Web 2.0 applications offer appealing solutions for delivering targeted and personalised e-health interventions that address various health behaviours, including dietary and physical activity behaviours. These applications show great potential as they can reach large segments of the population at relatively low cost. It is yet unclear the extent to which these applications are used and whether their use is associated with effects on behaviour. Furthermore, little work has been done in understanding what components of e-health interventions are associated with better results. Intervention components include behaviour change techniques (BCTs) employed (e.g., goal setting, self-monitoring, feedback provision, etc.), tools and delivery modes used (e.g., automated text messages, apps notifications, emails providing advices and challenges, displaying data allowing comparisons among users, inboards, etc.), and particular Web 2.0 features utilised (i.e., social networking, status updating, content sharing). Understanding which components are associated with positive (or negative) effects for particular target audiences is fundamental in developing effective e-health interventions employing Web 2.0 and smartphone applications.
Objective: This paper investigates the utilisation of Web 2.0 and smartphone applications in e-health interventions for weight management by “decomposing” existing interventions and identifying which components are associated with effectiveness.
Methods: A systematic review of the literature will be conducted to identify which intervention components and related Web 2.0 and smartphone apps features are associated with what effects on behaviour. Intervention components will be classified according to an extended version of Abraham and Michie’s (2008) taxonomy for behavioural change techniques, and will include information about delivery modes (e.g., Web 2.0 or smartphone app, email, text message) and Web 2.0 features employed.
Research in Progress: The review is part of a research project starting in May 2014. By the time of the presentation we will have concluded a preliminary scoping review, so that a map of the available evidence could be described and discussed. The work will highlight how smartphone and Web 2.0 applications are used in interventions designed to increase physical activity and change dietary behaviour patterns as well as how effective such apps are at prompting weight loss and weight maintenance. Additionally, this research will seek to identify the change processes involved in the creation of such apps, that is, which techniques, tools, and delivery modes are associated with effectiveness.