Objective: To discuss tailored messages in the broader context of communication strategies designed to enhance the relevance of health information to a given audience.
Methods: Describe specific mechanisms through which tailored health communication can enhance message relevance and identify situations in which the use of tailoring is most appropriate.
Results: Overall, tailored messages appear to stimulate greater cognitive activity than do messages that are not tailored. However, non-tailored messages that happen to be a good fit for a given individual also have similar effects.
Conclusion: Health communication programs and materials that succeed in making information relevant to their intended audience will be more effective than those that do not. Tailoring is a proven approach to enhancing message relevance, but not the only approach to do so, and under many circumstances may not be the preferred choice.