Effects of a Web-Based Tailored Multiple-Lifestyle Intervention for Adults: A Two-Year Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Sequential and Simultaneous Delivery Modes

D.N. Schulz*, S.P.J. Kremers, C. Vandelanotte, M.J.G. van Adrichem, F. Schneider, M.J.J.M. Candel, H. de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Web-based computer-tailored interventions for multiple health behaviors can have a significant public health impact. Yet, few randomized controlled trials have tested this assumption.

Objective: The objective of this paper was to test the effects of a sequential and simultaneous Web-based tailored intervention on multiple lifestyle behaviors.

Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 3 tailoring conditions (ie, sequential, simultaneous, and control conditions) in the Netherlands in 2009-2012. Follow-up measurements took place after 12 and 24 months. The intervention content was based on the I-Change model. In a health risk appraisal, all respondents (N= 5055) received feedback on their lifestyle behaviors that indicated whether they complied with the Dutch guidelines for physical activity, vegetable consumption, fruit consumption, alcohol intake, and smoking. Participants in the sequential (n= 1736) and simultaneous (n= 1638) conditions received tailored motivational feedback to change unhealthy behaviors one at a time (sequential) or all at the same time (simultaneous). Mixed model analyses were performed as primary analyses; regression analyses were done as sensitivity analyses. An overall risk score was used as outcome measure, then effects on the 5 individual lifestyle behaviors were assessed and a process evaluation was performed regarding exposure to and appreciation of the intervention.

Results: Both tailoring strategies were associated with small self-reported behavioral changes. The sequential condition had the most significant effects compared to the control condition after 12 months (T1, effect size= 0.28). After 24 months (T2), the simultaneous condition was most effective (effect size= 0.18). All 5 individual lifestyle behaviors changed over time, but few effects differed significantly between the conditions. At both follow-ups, the sequential condition had significant changes in smoking abstinence compared to the simultaneous condition (T1 effect size= 0.31; T2 effect size= 0.41). The sequential condition was more effective in decreasing alcohol consumption than the control condition at 24 months (effect size= 0.27). Change was predicted by the amount of exposure to the intervention (total visiting time: beta=-. 06; P=. 01; total number of visits: beta=-. 11; P

Conclusions: Although evidence was found for the effectiveness of both programs, no simple conclusive finding could be drawn about which intervention mode was more effective. The best kind of intervention may depend on the behavior that is targeted or on personal preferences and motivation. Further research is needed to identify moderators of intervention effectiveness. The results need to be interpreted in view of the high and selective dropout rates, multiple comparisons, and modest effect sizes. However, a large number of people were reached at low cost and behavioral change was achieved after 2 years.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere26
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • multiple behavior change
  • Web-based intervention
  • computer tailoring
  • effectiveness
  • physical activity
  • fruit consumption
  • vegetable consumption
  • alcohol intake
  • smoking
  • SELF

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