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The Long-Term Effectiveness of Internet-Based Interventions on Multiple Health Risk Behaviors: Systematic Review and Robust Variance Estimation Meta-analysis

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posted on 2022-03-08, 01:28 authored by F Tzelepis, A Mitchell, L Wilson, E Byrnes, Alexandra HaschekAlexandra Haschek, L Leigh, C Oldmeadow
Background: Smoking tobacco, poor nutrition, risky alcohol use, and physical inactivity (SNAP) behaviors tend to cluster together. Health benefits may be maximized if interventions targeted multiple health risk behaviors together rather than addressing single behaviors. The internet has wide reach and is a sustainable mode for delivery of interventions for multiple health behaviors. However, no systematic reviews have examined the long-term effectiveness of internet-based interventions on any combination of or all SNAP behaviors in adults aged 18 years or older. Objective: This systematic review examined, among adults (aged ≥18 years), the effectiveness of internet-based interventions on SNAP behaviors collectively in the long term compared with a control condition. Methods: The electronic databases Medline, PsycINFO, Embase, CINAHL, and Scopus were searched to retrieve studies describing the effectiveness of internet-based interventions on ≥2 SNAP behaviors published by November 18, 2019. The reference lists of retrieved articles were also checked to identify eligible publications. The inclusion criteria were randomized controlled trials or cluster randomized controlled trials with adults examining an internet-based intervention measuring the effect on ≥2 SNAP behaviors at least 6 months postrecruitment and published in English in a peer-reviewed journal. Two reviewers independently extracted data from included studies and assessed methodological quality using the Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies. A robust variance estimation meta-analysis was performed to examine the long-term effectiveness of internet-based interventions on all 4 SNAP risk behavior outcomes. All SNAP outcomes were coded so they were in the same direction, with higher scores equating to worse health risk behaviors. Results: The inclusion criteria were met by 11 studies: 7 studies measured the effect of an internet-based intervention on nutrition and physical activity; 1 study measured the effect on smoking, nutrition, and physical activity; and 3 studies measured the effect on all SNAP behaviors. Compared with the control group, internet-based interventions achieved an overall significant improvement across all SNAP behaviors in the long term (standardized mean difference -0.12 [improvement as higher scores = worse health risk outcomes], 95% CI -0.19 to -0.05; I2=1.5%, P=.01). The global methodological quality rating was "moderate" for 1 study, while the remaining 10 studies were rated as "weak." Conclusions: Internet-based interventions were found to produce an overall significant improvement across all SNAP behaviors collectively in the long term. Internet-based interventions targeting multiple SNAP behaviors have the potential to maximize long-term improvements to preventive health outcomes.


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Journal of Medical Internet Research





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JMIR Publications



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©Flora Tzelepis, Aimee Mitchell, Louise Wilson, Emma Byrnes, Alexandra Haschek, Lucy Leigh, Christopher Oldmeadow. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 21.12.2021. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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