September 12, 2014 (old blog)
Given that online approaches are relatively novel in the research world, we still have many questions about how they work:
1. Should such approaches be used as an adjunct or alternative to traditional interventions?
I personally believe it boils down to the population we are working with. For non-clinical populations who may just need a nudge in the right direction, online approaches may be sufficient to increase physical activity levels or improve dietary choices. On the other hand, with at-risk or clinical populations (e.g., substance abuse disorders, type 2 diabetes, obesity) online approaches may not meet that clinically meaningful threshold needed to initiate and sustain change.
2. What causes change – the intervention or the novel approach?
While we want to think it is the active ingredient in the intervention that causes the outcome (e.g.,building self-efficacy), select literature has suggested the Hawthorne effect (phenomenon where observed effects are simply due to participation in research rather than the actual intervention) may influence the outcomes of online intervention. Why? Because such approaches deliver the interventions on cool technology (with RIPPLE, the iPad) and it’s something new and different.
Stay tuned for Part II next week…