Title

Digital Media for Behavior Change: Review of an Emerging Field of Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

7-26-2022

Journal

International journal of environmental research and public health

Volume

19

Issue

15

DOI

10.3390/ijerph19159129

Keywords

behavior change; digital media; dose-response analysis; evaluation; health care; intervention research; public health; self-management; social media

Abstract

Digital media are omnipresent in modern life, but the science on the impact of digital media on behavior is still in its infancy. There is an emerging evidence base of how to use digital media for behavior change. Strategies to change behavior implemented using digital technology have included a variety of platforms and program strategies, all of which are potentially more effective with increased frequency, intensity, interactivity, and feedback. It is critical to accelerate the pace of research on digital platforms, including social media, to understand and address its effects on human behavior. The purpose of the current paper is to provide an overview and describe methods in this emerging field, present use cases, describe a future agenda, and raise central questions to be addressed in future digital health research for behavior change. Digital media for behavior change employs three main methods: (1) digital media interventions, (2) formative research using digital media, and (3) digital media used to conduct evaluations. We examine use cases across several content areas including healthy weight management, tobacco control, and vaccination uptake, to describe and illustrate the methods and potential impact of this emerging field of study. In the discussion, we note that digital media interventions need to explore the full range of functionality of digital devices and their near-constant role in personal self-management and day-to-day living to maximize opportunities for behavior change. Future experimental research should rigorously examine the effects of variable levels of engagement with, and frequency and intensity of exposure to, multiple forms of digital media for behavior change.

Department

Prevention and Community Health

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