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Development of a Digital Behavioral Intervention to Reduce the Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among Rural Appalachian Adults: Multiphased, Human-Centered Design Approach

HumanInsight Development of a Digital Behavioral Intervention to Reduce the Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among Rural Appalachian Adults: Multiphased, Human-Centered Design Approach

JMIR Hum Factors. 2023 Feb 1;10:e41262. doi: 10.2196/41262.


BACKGROUND: To avoid the low engagement and limited efficacy of digital behavioral health interventions, robust human-centered design (HCD) processes are needed.

OBJECTIVE: The primary objective of this study was to describe a flexible, step-by-step HCD process to develop digital behavioral health interventions by illustrating iSIPsmarter as an example. iSIPsmarter is a digital intervention for reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) that comprises 6 internet-based cores metered out over time to deliver the program content, an integrated SMS text message strategy to engage users in reporting SSB behaviors, and an electronic cellular-enabled scale for in-home weighing. The secondary objective is to illustrate the key components and characteristics of iSIPsmarter that resulted from the HCD process.

METHODS: The methods were guided by the Model for Internet Interventions and by best practices in HCD and instructional design processes (eg, rapid prototype development and think-aloud protocol). The 3-phased (ie, contextual, prototype testing, end user testing phases) process followed in this study included a series of 13 semistructured one-on-one interviews with 7 advisory team participants from the targeted Appalachian user group. The interviews were content coded by 2 researchers and then deductively coded to the suggested areas of digital behavioral health interventions.

RESULTS: The participants provided rich perspectives pertaining to iSIPsmarter's appearance, behavioral prescriptions, burdens, content, delivery, message, participation, and assessment. These inputs included requests for built-in flexibility to account for varying internet and SMS text message accessibility among users; ideas to resolve the issues and problems encountered when using the prototypes, including those related to navigation and comprehension of content; ideas to enhance personalized feedback to support motivation and goal setting for SSB consumption and weight; and feedback to refine the development of realistic and relatable vignettes. The participants were able to interact with multiple prototype drafts, allowing researchers to capture and incorporate feedback related to the iSIPsmarter dashboard, daily SSB and weight diaries, action planning, core content, interactions, and vignettes.

CONCLUSIONS: Using scientific models and established processes is critical for building robust and efficacious interventions. By applying an existing model and HCD and instructional design processes, we were able to identify assumptions and address the key areas of the iSIPsmarter intervention that were hypothesized to support users' engagement and promote behavior change. As evidenced by the rich feedback received from the advisory team members and the resulting iSIPsmarter product, the HCD methodology was instrumental in the development process. Although the final iSIPsmarter content is specific to improving SSB consumption behaviors among adults in rural areas, the intent is that this HCD process will have wide applications in the development of digital behavioral health interventions across multiple geographic and behavioral contexts.

PMID:36724036 | DOI:10.2196/41262

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