Applying motivational, self-regulatory and habit-formation techniques in a computer-tailored physical activity intervention in healthcare professionals


  • D. Kwasnicka
  • C. Vandelanotte
  • A. Rebar
  • B. Gardner
  • C. Short
  • M. Duncan
  • M. Hagger


Background: The aim of this study was to develop and test the efficacy of computer-tailored intervention to increase healthcare professionals’ physical activity and psychological wellbeing. This was the first study to compare the additive effects of three forms of a tailored intervention using different techniques from behavioural theory, which differ according to their focus on motivational, self-regulatory and/or habitual processes. Methods: Participants (N = 141) were healthcare professionals from four hospitals in Perth, Western Australia (94% female; M age = 45 years; M BMI = 26.31). Participants were randomised to one of four conditions: (1) education only (control), (2) education and motivation, (3) education, motivation and self-regulation, and (4) education, motivation, self-regulation and habit-formation techniques. All intervention groups received a computer-tailored intervention and text-messages relevant to each condition. Intervention effects were tested using a 4 (condition: control, motivation, self-regulation, habit) × 2 (time: baseline, follow-up) generalized linear mixed model. Findings: Intervention compliance was modest, with 53% (n=75) of participants providing follow-up data at 3 months. Complete-case analyses revealed that self-reported physical activity improved significantly among participants in the education and motivation condition (95% CIs: 99.57-7619.01 total PA minutes). There was also a reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms over time in the aforementioned condition, but no change in stress. Discussion: The most effective condition included less information and fewer behaviour change techniques as compared to other intervention conditions. The results may be explained through low participant engagement with the intervention: more comprehensive information may have been ignored or overburdened participants.





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