Objective: To develop a computer-based counselling system (CBCS) for the improvement of attitudes towards physical activity in chronically ill patients and to pilot its efficacy and acceptance in primary care.
Methods: The system is tailored to patients' disease and motivational stage. During a pilot study in five German general practices, patients answered questions before, directly and 6 weeks after using the CBCS. Outcome criteria were attitudes and self-efficacy. Qualitative interviews were performed to identify acceptance indicators.
Results: Seventy-nine patients participated (mean age: 64.5 years, 53% males; 38% without previous computer experience). Patients' affective and cognitive attitudes changed significantly, self-efficacy showed only minor changes. Patients mentioned no difficulties in interacting with the CBCS. However, perception of the system's usefulness was inconsistent.
Conclusion: Computer-based counselling for physical activity related attitudes in patients with chronic diseases is feasible, but the circumstances of use with respect to the target group and its integration into the management process have to be clarified in future studies.
Practice implication: This study adds to the understanding of computer-based counselling in primary health care. Acceptance indicators identified in this study will be validated as part of a questionnaire on technology acceptability in a subsequent study.
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