How effective is tailored print communication?

Ann Behav Med. 1999 Fall;21(4):290-8. doi: 10.1007/BF02895960.


This article reviews the "first generation" of tailored print communications studies in the published literature, describing the purpose, theoretical framework, sample, research design, message type and source, outcomes measured, and findings of each. Eight studies compared tailored versus similar nontailored print; one compared tailored print versus an alternate intervention, and three included tailored print as one of several intervention components. Although studies varied by behavioral topic, type of tailoring, and measurement of behavioral outcomes, several themes persist. Compared to their nontailored counterparts, tailored print communications have been consistently better remembered, read, and perceived as relevant and/or credible. There is also evidence that tailored print communications are more effective for influencing health behaviors. Six of the eight tailored/nontailored comparisons found more behavior change among tailored than nontailored recipients. Tailored print communications have also demonstrated effectiveness as an adjunct to other intervention components such as self-help smoking cessation manuals. However, studies comparing tailored print communications with tailoring via other media such as telephone counseling have shown mixed results. Additional research is needed to assess whether the behavioral topic itself may make a difference in whether tailoring is appropriate and effective.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Teaching Materials*
  • United States