New study: Digital coaching for better health - does it work?2020-05-14
Can digital services support people who want to change their behavior? This is what researchers at CTF, Service Research Center at Karlstad University, currently is studying together with Wellness in Värmland.
Many people want to, or have to for health reasons, change their habits to a healthier lifestyle, for example start exercising, eating healthier or quit smoking. Although many want to make a change, it is not an easy task. Research shows that motivation and support, for example from a family member or a coach, increases the chances of success.
"In this study, we are investigating how digital coaching works as support in a behavior change process," says Charlotte Bäccman, assistant professor in psychology at CTF. “Together with the non-profit health organization Wellness in Värmland, we have designed a study where we look at how coaching via SMS affect the motivation among clients who come to Wellness in Värmland for support in changing their eating and exercise habits. Personalized text messages based on each client’s needs, for example reminders, pep-texts or questions, are being sent by a wellness consultant with whom the client also have physical meetings."
One challenge is to find and maintain motivation
The aim of the study is to gain more knowledge of how digital services can complement physical meetings, for example with a wellness consultant, and reinforce behavior change. This knowledge can be used to design a digital coaching service which can be a good complement in, for example, healthcare.
“Motivation is often the deciding factor for success, and in our work, we notice that physical meetings are not always enough,” says Birgitta Sjökvist, head of operations for Wellness in Värmland. “Therefore, we are interested to find out if, and how, a service can be a support for those who want to change their behavior, and in our employees’ work.”
“Results from a previous pilot study show that individually adapted digital SMS increased the motivation among the participants. Now we take the next step and look at how this type of digital service should be designed to be most efficient,” concludes Charlotte Bäccman.
The study is conducted by researchers Charlotte Bäccman, Linda Bergkvist and Erik Wästlund at CTF in collaboration with Wellness in Värmland and is funded by Region Värmland within the DigitalWellResearch project.