Computer-tailored health interventions delivered over the Web: review and analysis of key components

Patient Educ Couns. 2009 Feb;74(2):156-73. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2008.08.023. Epub 2008 Oct 22.


Objective: This systematic review explores how computer-tailored, behavioral interventions implemented and delivered via the Web have been operationalized in a variety of settings.

Methods: Computer-tailored, online behavioral intervention studies published from 1996 to early 2007 were selected and reviewed by two independent coders.

Results: Of 503 studies screened, 30 satisfied the selection criteria. The level of sophistication of these interventions varied from immediate risk/health assessment, tailored web content to full-blown customized health programs. The most common variables for tailoring content were health behaviors and stages of change. Message tailoring was achieved through a combination mechanisms including: feedback, personalization and adaptation.

Conclusions: Tailored, self-guided health interventions delivered via the Web to date have involved a great diversity of features and formats. While some programs have been relatively brief and simple, others have involved complex, theory-based tailoring with iterative assessment, tools for development of self-regulatory skills, and various mechanisms for providing feedback.

Practice implications: Our ability to fully optimize the use of computer-assisted tailoring will depend on the development of empirically based guidelines for tailoring across populations, health foci, health behaviors and situations. Further outcome research is needed to enhance our understanding of how and under what conditions computer-tailoring leads to positive health outcomes in online behavioral interventions.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods*
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • Goals
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Internet / organization & administration*
  • Motivation
  • Needs Assessment
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Patient Care Planning / organization & administration*
  • Patient Participation
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Research Design
  • Risk Assessment
  • Self Care