Friday, March 23, 2018

Computers, Health and the Net

Can the Internet and computers help keep us healthy? It depends on how it is used and what sites we rely on to get our information. A recent study found that computer-delivered interventions show that using the computer and the Internet can work in some areas but not in others. Data from 75 randomized controlled trials, published between 1988 and 2007, with 35,685 participants and 82 separate interventions were included in the study. The researchers found that Computer-delivered intervention (CDIs) can lead to immediate post-intervention improvements in health-related knowledge, attitudes, and intentions as well as modifying health behaviors such as dietary intake, tobacco use, substance use, safer sexual behavior, binge/purging behaviors, and general health maintenance.
The researchers believe that computer-delivered interventions may help some participants organize previously latent motivation and behavioral skills at a critical moment, leading to improved health behaviors.
CDIs do not provide benefits in all contexts; the evidence does not support the use of CDIs to improve physical activity, weight loss, or diabetes self-management. Nonetheless, there is sufficient evidence to continue to investigate the benefits and limits of CDIs, to explore patient- and intervention-characteristics that facilitate health behavior change, and to determine the long-term effects of CDIs.
The research also looked at how long the changes might last. Some would argue that health behaviors are likely to recur (some would say “relapse”) when environmental conditions change (e.g., during increased stress), and the influence of the intervention wanes. The researcher found that computer-delivered interventions often exhibited uniform impact on outcomes despite the variability in follow-up duration, suggesting that the impact of computer-delivered intervention can be durable.

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