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      More Than a Text Message: Dismantling Digital Triggers to Curate Behavior Change in Patient-Centered Health Interventions

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          Abstract

          Digital triggers such as text messages, emails, and push alerts are designed to focus an individual on a desired goal by prompting an internal or external reaction at the appropriate time. Triggers therefore have an essential role in engaging individuals with digital interventions delivered outside of traditional health care settings, where other events in daily lives and fluctuating motivation to engage in effortful behavior exist. There is an emerging body of literature examining the use of digital triggers for short-term action and longer-term behavior change. However, little attention has been given to understanding the components of digital triggers. Using tailoring as an overarching framework, we separated digital triggers into 5 primary components: (1) who (sender), (2) how (stimulus type, delivery medium, heterogeneity), (3) when (delivered), (4) how much (frequency, intensity), and (5) what (trigger’s target, trigger’s structure, trigger’s narrative). We highlighted key considerations when tailoring each component and the pitfalls of ignoring common mistakes, such as alert fatigue and habituation. As evidenced throughout the paper, there is a broad literature base from which to draw when tailoring triggers to curate behavior change in health interventions. More research is needed, however, to examine differences in efficacy based on component tailoring, to best use triggers to facilitate behavior change over time, and to keep individuals engaged in physical and mental health behavior change efforts. Dismantling digital triggers into their component parts and reassembling them according to the gestalt of one’s change goals is the first step in this development work.

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          Most cited references 74

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          In search of how people change. Applications to addictive behaviors.

          How people intentionally change addictive behaviors with and without treatment is not well understood by behavioral scientists. This article summarizes research on self-initiated and professionally facilitated change of addictive behaviors using the key trans-theoretical constructs of stages and processes of change. Modification of addictive behaviors involves progression through five stages--pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance--and individuals typically recycle through these stages several times before termination of the addiction. Multiple studies provide strong support for these stages as well as for a finite and common set of change processes used to progress through the stages. Research to date supports a trans-theoretical model of change that systematically integrates the stages with processes of change from diverse theories of psychotherapy.
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            A review of eHealth interventions for physical activity and dietary behavior change.

            To review eHealth intervention studies for adults and children that targeted behavior change for physical activity, healthy eating, or both behaviors. Systematic literature searches were performed using five databases: MEDLINE, PsychInfo, CINAHL, ERIC, and the Cochrane Library to retrieve articles. Articles published in scientific journals were included if they evaluated an intervention for physical activity and/or dietary behaviors, or focused on weight loss, used randomized or quasi-experimental designs, measured outcomes at baseline and a follow-up period, and included an intervention where participants interacted with some type of electronic technology either as the main intervention or an adjunct component. All studies were published between 2000 and 2005. Eighty-six publications were initially identified, of which 49 met the inclusion criteria (13 physical activity publications, 16 dietary behaviors publications, and 20 weight loss or both physical activity and diet publications), and represented 47 different studies. Studies were described on multiple dimensions, including sample characteristics, design, intervention, measures, and results. eHealth interventions were superior to comparison groups for 21 of 41 (51%) studies (3 physical activity, 7 diet, 11 weight loss/physical activity and diet). Twenty-four studies had indeterminate results, and in four studies the comparison conditions outperformed eHealth interventions. Published studies of eHealth interventions for physical activity and dietary behavior change are in their infancy. Results indicated mixed findings related to the effectiveness of eHealth interventions. Interventions that feature interactive technologies need to be refined and more rigorously evaluated to fully determine their potential as tools to facilitate health behavior change.
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              Machines and Mindlessness: Social Responses to Computers

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Med Internet Res
                J. Med. Internet Res
                JMIR
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                1439-4456
                1438-8871
                May 2017
                26 May 2017
                : 19
                : 5
                Affiliations
                1Psychiatry Northwell Health Great Neck, NYUnited States
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Frederick Muench fmuench@ 123456northwell.edu
                Article
                v19i5e147
                10.2196/jmir.7463
                5466696
                28550001
                ©Frederick Muench, Amit Baumel. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 26.05.2017.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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