The Importance Of Designing Healthcare Platforms that Users Actually Enjoy

Dutch scientists from the University of Twente, published an extensive systematic review of internet-based health interventions, and to what degree adherence could be explained by persuasive system design. They were therefore not interested in the actual content of the interventions, but rather how persuasive the platform was for the user.

To judge "persuasive design", they used a framework of validated elements of persuasive design, called PSD. PSD looks at elements relating to:

  • Primary task support - This includes ways of guiding the user through the platform by allowing them practice, clarifying next steps etc.

  • Dialogue support - This measures to what degree the user can actually converse with the system, obtain praise, remind them of certain behaviors etc.

  • Social support - This includes elements where the user can get in contact with others within the platform, or get real emotional support for certain issues etc.

After reviewing and observing about 80 intervention studies within this framework, a whopping 55% of the total variance in adherence rates, could be explained by the degree of persuasiveness within the platforms. This could be interpreted as saying that a major reason why people drop out internet-based health interventions, are due to the way in which platforms are designed rather than the actual content in them.

With this in mind, there is a strong incentive to produce online interventions that actually appeal to users, and not simply blindly trust ones "expert advice".



Kelders, S. M., R. N. Kok, H. C. Ossebaard, and J. E. W. C. Van Gemert-Pijnen. 2012. “Persuasive System Design Does Matter: A Systematic Review of Adherence to Web-Based Interventions.” Journal of Medical Internet Research 14 (6): e152.

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