A Web-Based and Print-Delivered Computer-Tailored Physical Activity Intervention for Older Adults: Pretest-Posttest Intervention Study Comparing Delivery Mode Preference and Attrition

Janet Maria Boekhout*, Denise Astrid Peels, Brenda Angela Juliette Berendsen, Catherine Bolman, Lilian Lechner

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    2 Citations (Web of Science)


    BACKGROUND: Web-based interventions can play an important role in promoting physical activity (PA) behavior among older adults. Although the effectiveness of these interventions is promising, they are often characterized by low reach and high attrition, which considerably hampers their potential impact on public health.

    OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to identify the participant characteristics associated with the preference for a Web-based or a printed delivery mode and to determine whether an association exists between delivery modes or participant characteristics and attrition in an intervention. This knowledge may enhance implementation, sustainability of participation, and effectiveness of future interventions for older adults.

    METHODS: A real-life pretest-posttest intervention study was performed (N=409) among community-living single adults who were older than 65 years, with physical impairments caused by chronic diseases. Measurements were taken at baseline and 3 months after the start of the intervention. Hierarchical logistic regression was used to assess demographic and behavioral characteristics (age, gender, body mass index, educational attainment, degree of loneliness, and PA level), as well as psychosocial characteristics (social support for PA, modeling, self-efficacy, attitude, and intention) related to delivery mode preference at baseline and attrition after 3 months.

    RESULTS: The printed delivery mode achieved higher participation (58.9%, 241/409) than the Web-based delivery mode (41.1%, 168/409). Participation in the Web-based delivery mode was associated with younger age (B=-0.10; SE 0.02; Exp (B)=0.91; P<.001) and higher levels of social support for PA (B=0.38; SE 0.14; Exp (B)=1.46; P=.01); attrition was associated with participation in the Web-based delivery mode (B=1.28; SE 0.28; Exp (B)=3.58; P<.001) and low educational attainment (B=-0.53; SE 0.28; Exp (B)=0.59; P=.049).

    CONCLUSIONS: A total of 41% of the participants chose the Web-based delivery mode, thus demonstrating a potential interest of single older adults with physical impairments in Web-based delivered interventions. However, attrition was demonstrated to be higher in the Web-based delivery mode, and lower educational attainment was found to be a predictor for attrition. Characteristics predicting a preference for the printed delivery mode included being older and receiving less social support. Although Web-based delivery modes are generally less expensive and easier to distribute, it may be advisable to offer a printed delivery mode alongside a Web-based delivery mode to prevent exclusion of a large part of the target population.

    TRIAL REGISTRATION: Netherlands Trial Register NTR2297; https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/2173.


    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere13416
    Pages (from-to)e13416
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2019


    • ONLINE
    • Web-based intervention
    • attrition
    • older adults
    • physical activity
    • print-delivered intervention


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