Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 28 Feb 2017 Interactive health a ...

Interactive health apps may inspire you stay fit

Published Feb 28, 2017, 1:57 pm IST
Updated Feb 28, 2017, 2:04 pm IST
Health apps are better able to motivate you stay fit. (Photo: Pixabay)
 Health apps are better able to motivate you stay fit. (Photo: Pixabay)

Washington D.C.: Good news for those who want to lose weight without hitting gym or consulting a dietitian!

An online risk assessment website with good but controlled communication skills can promote healthy lifestyles, suggest a study. In a study, people who experienced a back-and-forth interaction with an online health risk assessment website, were more likely to follow the health behaviours suggested by the tool, according to S. Shyam Sundar from Pennsylvania State University in the US.

"This shows that delivering information on health risks through dialogue can help users get engaged with the tool and may positively affect their health," said Sundar.

The researchers, who presented their findings in journal of Human Communication Research, suggested that the display of interconnected questions and answers promote a feeling of contingency and that leads to better engagement with the site.

"When you are having this back and forth interaction with a system -- you are having a conversation with that system," said Sundar.

The researchers suggest that as more people become frustrated with the lack of face-to-face interaction with their doctors, patients may be more willing to try online health assessments and applications.

In 2012, 61 percent of people said they were dissatisfied with the time doctors spent talking with patients, according to a poll conducted by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. The researchers recruited 172 undergraduate students to take part in the study.

The participants were assigned to one of six versions of a health risk assessment website. The sites were designed to have either low, medium, or high interactivity with either conversational or no conversational tone.

The participants took part in a question and answer session delivered through the website's instant messaging interface. The results indicated better engagement, then, may increase the likelihood that the user will adopt strategies for better health.

"People are trying to compensate for this lack of face-to-face time with doctors by using online tools, which are becoming increasingly conversational," Sundar concluded.



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