Computer-tailored physical activity behavior change interventions targeting adults: a systematic review

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2009 Jun 3;6:30. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-6-30.


Background: Increasing physical activity is important in the promotion of better health. Computer-tailored behavior change programs have shown promise in changing lifestyle risk factors.

Purpose: To provide a narrative systematic review describing the range of evidence on 'second' and 'third' generation computer-tailored primary prevention interventions for physical activity, to determine their effectiveness and key characteristics of success. Unlike previous reviews, this review used specific criteria to measure the external validity of studies, was exclusive to primary prevention interventions in which tailoring was generated through an expert system, and excluded first generation computer-tailored interventions.

Methods: Computer-tailored intervention studies published from January 1996-2008 were identified through a search of five databases: Medline; Embase; PsycINFO; CINAHL; and All EBM Reviews and by examining reference lists of relevant articles.

Results: Seventeen articles were included, describing the evaluation of 16 interventions, ten of which found significant positive effects of the computer-tailored interventions on physical activity or weight reduction outcomes.

Conclusion: The evidence of effectiveness for computer-tailored physical activity interventions is inconclusive. They have potential to reach large groups of people however there is uncertainty whether reported effects are generalizable and sustained.