Web-based, computer-tailored, pedometer-based physical activity advice: development, dissemination through general practice, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy in a randomized controlled trial

J Med Internet Res. 2012 Apr 24;14(2):e53. doi: 10.2196/jmir.1959.


Background: Computer tailoring is a relatively innovative and promising physical activity intervention approach. However, few computer-tailored physical activity interventions in adults have provided feedback based on pedometer use.

Objectives: To (1) describe the development of a Web-based, pedometer-based, computer-tailored step advice intervention, (2) report on the dissemination of this tool through general practice, (3) report on its perceived acceptability, and (4) evaluate the preliminary efficacy of this tool in comparison with a standard intervention.

Methods: We recruited 92 participants through general practitioners and randomly assigned them to a standard condition (receiving a pedometer-only intervention, n = 47) and a tailored condition (receiving a pedometer plus newly developed, automated, computer-tailored step advice intervention, n = 45). Step counts, self-reported data obtained via telephone interview on physical activity, time spent sitting, and body mass index were assessed at baseline and postintervention. The present sample was mostly female (54/92, 59%), highly educated (59/92, 64%), employed (65/92, 71%), and in good health (62/92, 67%).

Results: Recruitment through general practitioners was poor (n = 107, initial response rate 107/1737, 6.2%); however, the majority of participants (50/69, 73%) believed it is useful that general practitioners help patients find ways to increase physical activity. In the tailored condition, 30/43 (70%) participants requested the computer-tailored step advice and the majority found it understandable (21/21, 100%), credible (17/18, 94%), relevant (15/18, 83%), not too long (13/18, 72%), instructive (13/18, 72%), and encouraging to increase steps (16/24, 67%). Daily step counts increased from baseline (mean 9237, SD 3749 steps/day) to postintervention (mean 11,876, SD 4574 steps/day) in the total sample (change of 2639, 95% confidence interval 105-5172; F(1 )= 5.0, P = .04). No interaction or other time effects were found.

Conclusions: The majority of participants in the tailored condition accepted the step advice and indicated it was useful. However, in this selected sample of adults, the tailored condition did not show superior effects compared with the standard condition.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • General Practice*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Walking*