Understanding how people process health information: a comparison of tailored and nontailored weight-loss materials

Health Psychol. 1999 Sep;18(5):487-94. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.18.5.487.


Health information tailored to meet individuals' unique needs has been shown to be more effective than generic information in promoting risk-reducing behavior changes. To explore mechanisms underlying tailoring's effectiveness, this study randomly assigned 198 overweight adults to receive weight-loss materials that were (a) tailored to the individual, (b) in an American Heart Association (AHA) brochure, or (c) AHA-content formatted to look like tailored materials. Participants who received tailored materials had more positive thoughts about the materials, positive personal connections to the materials, positive self-assessment thoughts, and positive thoughts indicating behavioral intention than those who received either of the untailored materials. The tailoring of health information can significantly improve the chances the information will be thoughtfully considered and can stimulate prebehavioral changes such as self-assessment and intention.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Random Allocation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching Materials*
  • Weight Loss*