One size does not fit all: the case for tailoring print materials

Ann Behav Med. 1999 Fall;21(4):276-83. doi: 10.1007/BF02895958.


Printed health education materials frequently consist of mass-produced brochures, booklets, or pamphlets designed for a general population audience. Although this one-size-fits-all approach might be appropriate under certain circumstances and even produce small changes at relatively modest costs, it cannot address the unique needs, interests, and concerns of different individuals. With the advent and dissemination of new communication technologies, our ability to collect information from individuals and provide feedback tailored to the specific information collected is not only possible, but practical. The purpose of this article is to: (a) distinguish between tailored print communication and other common communication-based approaches to health education and behavior change; (b) present a theoretical and public health rationale for tailoring health information; and (c) describe the steps involved in creating and delivering tailored print communication programs. Studies suggest computer tailoring is a promising strategy for health education and behavior change. Practitioners and researchers should understand the approach and consider the possibilities it presents for enhancing their work in disease prevention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Education / trends
  • Health Promotion / trends*
  • Humans
  • Information Services / trends
  • Software
  • Teaching Materials / standards*
  • United States