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Home > Identification of behavior change techniques from successful web-based interventions targeting alcohol consumption, binge eating, and gambling: systematic review.

Humphreys, Gabrielle and Evans, Rebecca and Makin, Harriet and Cooke, Richard and Jones, Andrew (2021) Identification of behavior change techniques from successful web-based interventions targeting alcohol consumption, binge eating, and gambling: systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23, (2), e22694. DOI: 10.2196/22694.

External website: https://www.jmir.org/2021/2/e22694/

BACKGROUND: Web-based interventions are thought to overcome barriers to treatment, such as accessibility and geographical location, which can undermine the effectiveness of traditional face-to-face interventions. Owing to these features, researchers are increasingly testing the efficacy of web-based interventions as ways to reduce alcohol misuse, binge eating, and gambling. However, many web-based interventions have poorly defined mechanisms of action; therefore, it is often uncertain how they propose to bring about behavior change.

OBJECTIVE: This systematic review aims to identify effective behavior change techniques (BCTs) present in web-based interventions aimed at reducing alcohol consumption, binge eating, or gambling.

METHODS: This systematic review covered research conducted in the last 20 years. Inclusion criteria for interventions were web-based administration; targeting alcohol use, binge eating, and/or gambling; and reporting on baseline and postintervention measures of behavior. The PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses) guidelines were followed. We coded intervention effectiveness, study quality, and BCTs present in the interventions.

RESULTS: Following removal of 4152 ineligible articles, 45 were included in the review: 32 (71%) targeted alcohol misuse, 6 (13%) targeted binge eating, and 7 (16%) targeted gambling. In total, 5 frequency counts were performed to identify the most commonly used BCTs: all studies, effective interventions, high-quality studies at 2 thresholds, and both high quality and effective studies. The results obtained from this were integrated to identify 7 BCTs. These 7 BCTs were problem solving, feedback on behavior, self-monitoring of behavior, self-monitoring of outcomes, instruction on how to perform a behavior, information about social and health consequences, and social comparison. A total of 4 BCTs were found in all frequency counts: feedback on behavior, self-monitoring of behavior, instruction on how to perform a behavior, and social comparison. Self-monitoring of outcomes of behavior was found in 3 of the 5 frequency counts, problem solving was found in 2 frequency counts, and information about social and health consequences was found in 1 frequency count.

CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review identified 7 of the most frequently used BCTs used in web-based interventions focused on alcohol misuse, binge eating, and gambling. These results can inform the development of evidence-based eHealth interventions that have the potential to lead to effective, positive behavior changes in all 3 areas.


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