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How to develop a Website to Support Long-Term Maintenance of Weight Loss

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Weight Loss For most individuals, long-term maintenance of weight loss requires long-term, supportive intervention. Internet-based weight loss maintenance programs offer considerable potential for meeting this need. Careful design processes are required to maximize adherence and minimize attrition.

A paper published on "Journal of Medical Internet Research" (JMIR) describes the development, implementation and use of a Web-based intervention program designed to help those who have recently lost weight sustain their weight loss over 1 year.

The weight loss maintenance website was developed over a 1-year period by an interdisciplinary team of public health researchers, behavior change intervention experts, applications developers, and interface designers. Key interactive features of the final site include social support, self-monitoring, written guidelines for diet and physical activity, links to appropriate websites, supportive tools for behavior change, check-in accountability, tailored reinforcement messages, and problem solving and relapse prevention training. The weight loss maintenance program included a reminder system (automated email and telephone messages) that prompted participants to return to the website if they missed their check-in date. If there was no log-in response to the email and telephone automated prompts, a staff member called the participant. We tracked the proportion of participants with at least one log-in per month, and analyzed log-ins as a result of automated prompts.

Weight Loss 

The mean age of the 348 participants enrolled in an ongoing randomized trial and assigned to use the website was 56 years; 63% were female, and 38% were African American. While weight loss data will not be available until mid-2008, website use remained high during the first year with over 80% of the participants still using the website during month 12. During the first 52 weeks, participants averaged 35 weeks with at least one log-in. Email and telephone prompts appear to be very effective at helping participants sustain ongoing website use.

Developing interactive websites is expensive, complex, and time consuming. We found that extensive paper prototyping well in advance of programming and a versatile product manager who could work with project staff at all levels of detail were essential to keeping the development process efficient. 

Full text can be found here http://www.jmir.org/2008/1/e1/HTML for FREE 

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 April 2008 23:59 )  

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