A Mobile Phone App Intervention Targeting Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: The Efficacy of Textual and Auditory Tailored Health Information Tested in a Randomized Controlled Trial

Sarah Pietertje Elbert*, Arie Dijkstra, Anke Oenema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Mobile phone apps are increasingly used to deliver health interventions, which provide the opportunity to present health information via different communication modes. However, scientific evidence regarding the effects of such health apps is scarce. Objective: In a randomized controlled trial, we tested the efficacy of a 6-month intervention delivered via a mobile phone app that communicated either textual or auditory tailored health information aimed at stimulating fruit and vegetable intake. A control condition in which no health information was given was added. Perceived own health and health literacy were included as moderators to assess for which groups the interventions could possibly lead to health behavior change. Methods: After downloading the mobile phone app, respondents were exposed monthly to either text-based or audio-based tailored health information and feedback over a period of 6 months via the mobile phone app. In addition, respondents in the control condition only completed the baseline and posttest measures. Within a community sample (online recruitment), self-reported fruit and vegetable intake at 6-month follow-up was our primary outcome measure. Results: In total, 146 respondents (ranging from 40 to 58 per condition) completed the study (attrition rate 55%). A significant main effect of condition was found on fruit intake (P=.049, partial eta(2)=0.04). A higher fruit intake was found after exposure to the auditory information, especially in recipients with a poor perceived own health (P=.003, partial eta(2)=0.08). In addition, health literacy moderated the effect of condition on vegetable intake 6 months later (P
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere147
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • mobile phone app
  • health behavior
  • fruit and vegetable intake
  • persuasive communication
  • communication modality
  • audio
  • intervention study

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