Development of a computerized program to promote health behavior change (completed)

This is a short version of a research protocol, to give an overview of the plans for the development of a comprehensive research program.

About the project

The overall aim of the program is to promote preventive oral health care by use of computer- and internet mediated interventions.


The long-term goal of this research is to improve oral health by reducing negative oral health behavior by computer-mediated health related interventions.


To develop a pilot computer program/ internet homepage specific for use in dentistry, based on previous computer-mediated health related interventions in other health areas (Lenert et al, 2003; Tate et al, 2001).


To do pilot studies to test and further develop the pilot program into a flexible software program that can be used to implement multi-contact interventions to promote change in health behavior. Particular focus on a user-friendly interface within an evidence-based approach and the promotion of individually decided pathways. 3. To pilot test the another version of the program among adolescents with diabetes 1. 4. To further develop a comprehensive protocol for a multi-centre study to test the efficacy of a multi-contact intervention models in different areas and age-groups in dentistry. 5. Future research is planned to include randomized clinical trials to compare the effect of computerized MI with current oral health counseling and other practices. (See list of studies included in the research program).


Use of computer-mediated interventions. Rapid increase in access to the internet has made it a mode for public health interventions. A cognitive/ behavioral approach is widely used for change of behavior, first of all addiction {Mullen et al, 1997), and also based on internet mediated programs (Lenert et al, 2003). However, no studies have evaluated the efficacy of computer-based interventions in dentistry. Interventions to change health-related behaviors. Counselling patients in dental and medical settings is frequently an exercise in overt persuasion. What appears to be a convincing line of reasoning to the health professional falls on deaf ears or results in reluctance to change, and straightforward advice-giving approach will be of limited value (Rollnick et al, 1992). Moreover, many patients have reservations about “being told what to do” (Stott et al, 1990). More fundamental is the possibility that direct persuasion, whatever the degree of readiness to change, pushes the patient in a defensive position. A possible mechanism is the phenomenon of psychological reactance (Brehm et al, 1981) in which threats to personal freedom result in increase in attempts to maintain independence.


Specific aims 1 and 2 are finished. Results are published: Søvdsnes E-K, Skaret E, Espelid I, Mosdøl A. Development of a web-based service to promote health behavior change. Nor Tannlegeforen Tid 2010; 120: 456–62. Specific aim 3 has started.


The project is financed by The Norwegian Directorate of Health and The faculty of dentistry, Institute for clinical dentistry, University of Oslo


Tags: Health promotion and disease prevention, computerized program, Web page, Health behavior change, Adolescents
Published Oct. 6, 2010 1:39 PM - Last modified Oct. 25, 2021 12:25 PM


Erik Skaret