Effects of functional interactivity on patients' knowledge, empowerment, and health outcomes: an experimental model-driven evaluation of a web-based intervention.
The effectiveness of eHealth interventions in terms of reach and outcomes is now well documented. However, there is a need to understand not only whether eHealth interventions work, but also what kind of functions and mechanisms enhance their effectiveness. The present investigation contributes to tackling these challenges by investigating the role played by functional interactivity on patients' knowledge, empowerment, and health outcomes.
To test whether health knowledge and empowerment mediate a possible relationship between the availability of interactive features on an eHealth application and individuals' health outcomes. We present an empirical, model-driven evaluation of the effects of functional interactivity implemented in an eHealth application, based on a brief theoretical review of the constructs of interactivity, health knowledge, empowerment, and health outcomes. We merged these constructs into a theoretical model of interactivity effects that we tested on an eHealth application for patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS).
This study used a pretest-posttest experimental design. We recruited 165 patients and randomly assigned them to three study groups, corresponding to different levels of functional interactivity. Eligibility to participate in the study required that patients (1) be fluent in Italian, (2) have access to the Internet, (3) report confidence in how to use a computer, and (4) have received a diagnosis of FMS from a doctor. We used structural equation modeling techniques to analyze changes between the pretest and the posttest results.
The main finding was that functional interactivity had no impact on empowerment dimensions, nor direct observable effects on knowledge. However, knowledge positively affected health outcomes (b = -.12, P = .02), as did the empowerment dimensions of meaning (b = -.49, P < .001) and impact (b = -.25, P < .001).
The theoretical model was partially confirmed, but only as far as the effects of knowledge and empowerment were concerned. The differential effect of interactive functions was by far weaker than expected. The strong impact of knowledge and empowerment on health outcomes suggests that these constructs should be targeted and enhanced by eHealth applications.
Institute of Communication and Health, Faculty of Communication Sciences, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland. firstname.lastname@example.org
SourceJournal of medical Internet research 14:4 2012 pg e105
Pub Type(s)Journal Article
Randomized Controlled Trial
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't