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Journal of Medical Internet Research

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Behavior change, Digital media, Digital person-to-person, Health, Health care, In-person, Online intervention




© Sara Santarossa, Deborah Kane, Charlene Y Senn, Sarah J Woodruff. The growth of the digital environment provides tremendous opportunities to revolutionize health behavior change efforts. This paper explores the use of Web-based, mobile, and social media health behavior change interventions and determines whether there is a need for a face-to-face or an in-person component. It is further argued that that although in-person components can be beneficial for online interventions, a digital person-to-person component can foster similar results while dealing with challenges faced by traditional intervention approaches. Using a digital person-to-person component is rooted in social and behavioral theories such as the theory of reasoned action, and the social cognitive theory, and further justified by the human support constructs of the model of supportive accountability. Overall, face-to-face and online behavior change interventions have their respective advantages and disadvantages and functions, yet both serve important roles. It appears that it is in fact human support that is the most important component in the effectiveness and adherence of both face-to-face and online behavior change interventions, and thoughtfully introducing a digital person-to-person component, to replace face-to-face interactions, can provide the needed human support while diminishing the barriers of in-person meetings. The digital person-to-person component must create accountability, generate opportunities for tailored feedback, and create social support to successfully create health behavior change. As the popularity of the online world grows, and the interest in using the digital environment for health behavior change interventions continues to be embraced, further research into not only the use of online interventions, but the use of a digital person-to-person component, must be explored.

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