What is the future of digital interventions for health behaviour change?
The digital environment (e.g. Internet, mobile phones, smart phones) that is now an integral part of our daily lives is becoming an increasingly important means of sustaining the health of people worldwide, whether by providing access to a wealth of information, by linking geographically dispersed communities of peers and professionals, or by supporting self-management of health and illness. The Internet is therefore rapidly becoming both a medium and a focus for health psychology research.
The Internet can be used as a source of naturally occurring observations and data, as in the qualitative study by Rodham, McCabe, and Blake (2009) of Internet communication between people with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. It can also be used to give people personalized feedback about their health risks, as in the study of predictors of online diabetes risk test taking by van Koningsbruggen and Das (2009). Perhaps most significantly, it provides a cost-effective means of making automated behavior change interventions widely available, such as the stress and alcohol reduction programmes deployed in two papers in a recent issue of Psychology & Health (Crutzen et al., 2009; Fridici, Lohaus, & Gla