Can one size fit all? Tailoring the mode of information presentation of health information online


  • H. Nguyen
  • J. van Weert
  • N. Bol
  • E. Loos
  • E. Smets


Background: Previous scholars have mainly focused on adjusting message content to match individual characteristics and preferences. Additional strategies, such as tailoring to individual preferences for the mode of information delivery, have been proposed to increase message effectiveness. This project investigates whether mode tailoring, allowing users to self-tailor the mode of delivery, positively influences younger (25-45) and older (65+) adults’ information recall and satisfaction with health websites. Methods: First, a 5 (tailored vs. text, text with illustrations, text with video, combination) × 2 (younger vs. older adults) experiment (N ≈ 563) tested the effects on recall and satisfaction. Second, a 2 (tailored vs. non-tailored) × 2 (younger vs. older adults) experimental study (N ≈ 515) aimed to explore possible mechanisms of mode tailoring effects. Recall was measured with seven open questions. Satisfaction with the attractiveness, comprehensibility and emotional support of the website was assessed. Potential mediators included (amongst others) attention, cognitive load, and perceived active control. Findings: Mode tailoring positively influenced attention, and consequently recall in older adults. Younger adults recalled more from text-only and text with illustrations. Both younger and older adults were more satisfied with the attractiveness and comprehensibility of the mode-tailored website. Perceived active control mediates this effect. Discussion: Mode tailoring could be a promising strategy that can be used in health interventions. Next to investigating ‘why’ mode tailoring might be effective, it is also important to investigate ‘when’ (which audience and outcome measures) mode tailoring is effective. Nevertheless, this study provides relevant insights for researchers and practitioners.