Background: A randomized controlled trial (RCT) showed that a Web-based computer-tailored self-management intervention for people with or at risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) did not have a significant treatment effect. Process evaluation measures such as application use and satisfaction with the intervention can help understand these results.
Objectives: The aim of this paper is to uncover reasons for suboptimal application use, evaluate satisfaction with the intervention, and investigate which participant characteristics predict application use and user satisfaction.
Methods: Participants were recruited through 2 different channels: an online panel and general practice. The intervention group received the intervention, which consisted of 2 modules (smoking cessation and physical activity). The control group received no intervention. The study employed a mixed methods design. Quantitative and qualitative data were gathered assessing participant characteristics, application use, reasons for not using the application, and satisfaction with the intervention.
Results: The RCT included 1325 participants. The proportion of individuals who participated was significantly higher in the online group (4072/6844, 59.5%) compared to the general practice group (43/335, 12.8%) (P<.001). Application use was low. Of all participants in the intervention group, 52.9% (348/658) initiated use of one or both modules, 36.0% (237/658) completed an intervention component (prolonged use), and 16.6% (109/658) revisited one of the modules after completing an intervention component (sustained use). Older age, established diagnosis of COPD, or experiencing breathlessness predicted sustained use.Participant satisfaction with the 2 modules was 6.7 (SD 1.6) on a scale from 0 to 10. The interviews revealed that a computer application was believed not to be sufficient and the help of a health care professional was necessary. Participants with a greater intention to change were more satisfied with the application.
Conclusions: The application was not used sufficiently. Study materials should be further tailored to younger individuals, those at risk for COPD, and those who do not experience breathlessness in order to increase sustained use among them. Involvement of a health care professional could improve satisfaction with the intervention and potentially increase engagement with intervention materials. However, to make this possible, recruitment in general practice needs to be improved. Recommendations are made for improving the study design, strengthening the intervention (eg, practice facilitation), and linking the computer application to interaction with a health care provider.