Tailoring message frames in online health communication

An unhealthy lifestyle is the main cause of chronic diseases, resulting in reduced quality of life and preventable healthcare costs. As budgets for healthcare become increasingly limited, low-cost lifestyle improvement strategies are needed. A strategy proven to be (cost-)effective is online individually tailored health communication. To date, tailoring entailed adjusting what information was provided, but overall effects remain small. This project will therefore venture in a new direction by moving towards tailoring how information is provided.

Specifically, this project will investigate effects of message frame tailoring based on need for autonomy, a theoretical construct derived from Self-Determination Theory. Individual differences in need for autonomy are profound when it concerns health decisions: while some people prefer to choose their own path towards lifestyle improvement, others prefer to be guided by clear-cut expert advice. To be able to tailor message frames based on these differences, several studies will be conducted within this project focusing both on decreasing unhealthy behaviour and increasing healthy behaviour.

Research team: Eline Smit (PostDoc)
Status: Ongoing since April 2016
Funding: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWo; personal VENI grant Eline Smit)