BACKGROUND: Especially for single older adults with chronic diseases, physical inactivity and a poor social network are regarded as serious threats to their health and independence. The Active Plus intervention is an automated computer-tailored eHealth intervention that has been proven effective to promote physical activity (PA) in the general population of adults older than 50 years.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to report on the methods and results of the systematic adaptation of Active Plus to the wishes and needs of the subgroup of single people older than 65 years who have one or more chronic diseases, as this specific target population may encounter specific challenges regarding PA and social network.
METHODS: The Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol was used to systematically adapt the existing intervention to optimally suit this specific target population. A literature study was performed, and quantitative as well as qualitative data were derived from health care professionals (by questionnaires, n=10) and the target population (by focus group interviews, n=14), which were then systematically integrated into the adapted intervention.
RESULTS: As the health problems and the targeted behavior are largely the same in the original and adapted intervention, the outcome of the needs assessment was that the performance objectives remained the same. As found in the literature study and in data derived from health professionals and focus groups, the relative importance and operationalization of the relevant psychosocial determinants related to these objectives are different from the original intervention, resulting in a refinement of the change objectives to optimally fit the specific target population. This refinement also resulted in changes in the practical applications, program components, intervention materials, and the evaluation and implementation strategy for the subgroup of single, chronically impaired older adults.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that the adaptation of an existing intervention is an intensive process in which adopting the IM protocol is an invaluable tool. The study provides a broad insight in adapting interventions aimed at single older adults with a chronic disease. It is concluded that even when the new target population is a sizable segment of the original target population, the adapted intervention still needs considerable changes to optimally fit the needs and situational differences of the narrower target population.