COPD is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Self-management interventions are considered important in order to limit the progression of the disease. Computer-tailored interventions could be an effective tool to facilitate self-management.
This randomized controlled trial tested the effectiveness of a web-based, computer-tailored COPD self-management intervention on physical activity and smoking behavior. Participants were recruited from an online panel and through primary care practices. Those at risk for or diagnosed with COPD, between 40 and 70 years of age, proficient in Dutch, with access to the Internet, and with basic computer skills (n=1,325), were randomly assigned to either the intervention group (n=662) or control group (n=663). The intervention group received the web-based self-management application, while the control group received no intervention. Participants were not blinded to group assignment. After 6 months, the effect of the intervention was assessed for the primary outcomes, smoking cessation and physical activity, by self-reported 7-day point prevalence abstinence and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire – Short Form.
Of the 1,325 participants, 1,071 (80.8%) completed the 6-month follow-up questionnaire. No significant treatment effect was found on either outcome. The application however, was used by only 36% of the participants in the experimental group.
A possible explanation for the nonsignificant effect on the primary outcomes, smoking cessation and physical activity, could be the low exposure to the application as engagement with the program has been shown to be crucial for the effectiveness of computer-tailored interventions. (Netherlands Trial Registry number: NTR3421.)