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1.  Barriers to and facilitators of partner notification for chlamydia trachomatis among health care professionals 
Partner notification (PN) is an essential case-finding tool in the management of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Yet, data on the effectiveness and factors impacting implementation of PN in the Netherlands are lacking. With the aim of further exploring and improving the PN process, the current study assessed perceived barriers and facilitators among health care professionals in the STI clinical setting. In particular, we explored the management of PN in young heterosexual patients diagnosed with Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct).
We conducted semi-structured interviews among 22 health care professionals (response rate 52%) from 5 of the 8 national STI clinics in the Netherlands. We carried out qualitative content analysis using a framework approach. All participants were nurses, aged mid 20’s to late 50’s, and all but one were female.
All health care professionals felt comfortable discussing PN. Other perceived facilitators for PN included: time, one-on-one consultations, interviewing skills (i.e. Motivational Interviewing) and a proactive helping style. Important barriers were identified as: sub-optimal guidelines, inaccurate sexual history, a lack of feedback regarding the motivational strategies that were used, and the lack of feedback regarding overall PN effectiveness. The health care professionals placed an emphasis on the care and treatment of the individual index patient rather than on discussion of PN, or on motivating and helping patients to engage in PN.
Health care professionals identified several barriers that need to be overcome, and facilitators which need to be maintained. Future efforts should concentrate on introducing PN protocols, providing feedback on both the effectiveness of strategies used by health care professionals, and on the PN process as a whole, and educating health care professionals about Motivational Interviewing strategies. Moreover, the possible implementation of an Internet-based PN system should be explored.
PMCID: PMC4279885  PMID: 25526679
Partner notification; Chlamydia trachomatis; Barriers; Facilitators; Public health
2.  Supporting Health Care Professionals to Improve the Processes of Shared Decision Making and Self-Management in a Web-Based Intervention: Randomized Controlled Trial 
Research to assess the effect of interventions to improve the processes of shared decision making and self-management directed at health care professionals is limited. Using the protocol of Intervention Mapping, a Web-based intervention directed at health care professionals was developed to complement and optimize health services in patient-centered care.
The objective of the Web-based intervention was to increase health care professionals’ intention and encouraging behavior toward patient self-management, following cardiovascular risk management guidelines.
A randomized controlled trial was used to assess the effect of a theory-based intervention, using a pre-test and post-test design. The intervention website consisted of a module to help improve professionals’ behavior, a module to increase patients’ intention and risk-reduction behavior toward cardiovascular risk, and a parallel module with a support system for the health care professionals. Health care professionals (n=69) were recruited online and randomly allocated to the intervention group (n=26) or (waiting list) control group (n=43), and invited their patients to participate. The outcome was improved professional behavior toward health education, and was self-assessed through questionnaires based on the Theory of Planned Behavior. Social-cognitive determinants, intention and behavior were measured pre-intervention and at 1-year follow-up.
The module to improve professionals’ behavior was used by 45% (19/42) of the health care professionals in the intervention group. The module to support the health professional in encouraging behavior toward patients was used by 48% (20/42). The module to improve patients’ risk-reduction behavior was provided to 44% (24/54) of patients. In 1 of every 5 patients, the guideline for cardiovascular risk management was used. The Web-based intervention was poorly used. In the intervention group, no differences in social-cognitive determinants, intention and behavior were found for health care professionals, compared with the control group. We narrowed the intervention group and no significant differences were found in intention and behavior, except for barriers. Results showed a significant overall difference in barriers between the intervention and the control group (F 1=4.128, P=.02).
The intervention was used by less than half of the participants and did not improve health care professionals’ and patients’ cardiovascular risk-reduction behavior. The website was not used intensively because of time and organizational constraints. Professionals in the intervention group experienced higher levels of barriers to encouraging patients, than professionals in the control group. No improvements were detected in the processes of shared decision making and patient self-management. Although participant education level was relatively high and the intervention was pre-tested, it is possible that the way the information was presented could be the reason for low participation and high dropout. Further research embedded in professionals’ regular consultations with patients is required with specific emphasis on the processes of dissemination and implementation of innovations in patient-centered care.
Trial Registration
Netherlands Trial Register Number (NTR): NTR2584; (Archived by WebCite at
PMCID: PMC4259881  PMID: 25337988
Web-based intervention; health professionals; RCT; self-management; barriers
3.  Long Live Love. The implementation of a school-based sex-education program in the Netherlands 
Health Education Research  2014;29(4):583-597.
Implementation of health education programs is often inadequately considered or not considered at all in planning, developing and evaluating interventions. With the focus being predominantly on the adoption stage, little is known about the factors influencing the implementation and continuation stages of the diffusion process. This study contributes to the understanding of factors that promote or impede each stage of the diffusion process in the school setting using the sex education program Long Live Love (LLL) as an example. A survey integrating different diffusion-related concepts was completed by 130 teachers. Results showed that teacher curriculum-related beliefs were associated with all stages in the diffusion process. Although adoption of LLL was predominantly related to teacher curriculum-related beliefs, implementation completeness and fidelity and continued use of LLL were also enhanced by contextual factors, namely teacher training and interactive context variables (school policy, governing body support and student response), respectively. The results of this study can be used to optimize the adoption, implementation and continuation of school-based (sexual) health promotion programs.
PMCID: PMC4101186  PMID: 24817522
4.  “I don’t see an added value for myself”: a qualitative study exploring the social cognitive variables associated with influenza vaccination of Belgian, Dutch and German healthcare personnel 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:407.
Health Authorities recommend influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel (HCP) to decrease the transmission of influenza to vulnerable patients. Recent studies have almost exclusively used quantitative questionnaires in order to identify determinants of vaccination behaviour. Interviews enable HCP to express freely why they think they are (not) willing to get vaccinated against influenza.
By means of semi-structured one-on-one interviews with 123 Belgian, Dutch and German HCP, reasons for and against vaccination, experiences with influenza vaccination, intention to get vaccinated and possible barriers, as well as willingness to advice influenza vaccination to patients were investigated. Data were processed with QSR NVivo 8.0 and analysed using a combination of a deductive and a general inductive approach.
Across countries, self-protection, patient protection, and protection of family members were reported as most important reasons to get vaccinated against influenza. Reasons to not get vaccinated against influenza were fear of side effects caused by the vaccine, a low risk-perception, the disbelief in the effectiveness of influenza vaccination, organizational barriers, misconceptions, and undefined negative emotions.
The social cognitive variables underlying the decision of HCP to get vaccinated against influenza (or not) seem to be similar in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, even though some differences surfaced. A quantitative investigation of those social cognitive variables is needed in order to determine the importance of the social cognitive variables in explaining the intention to get vaccinated and the importance of the similarities and differences between countries that have been found in this study.
PMCID: PMC4021212  PMID: 24775096
Influenza vaccination; Healthcare personnel; Hospital; Qualitative research; Social cognitive determinants
5.  Process evaluation of school-based peer education for HIV prevention among Yemeni adolescents 
Sahara J  2013;10(1):55-64.
In 2005, a survey was conducted among all the 27 high schools of Aden, which revealed low levels of knowledge on major prevention measures, and a high level of stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV (PLWH). The results served as a baseline for implementing a school-based peer education intervention for HIV prevention in the 27 schools of Aden. In 2008, and after 3 years of implementation, a quasi-experimental evaluation was conducted, which revealed that the peer education intervention has succeeded in improving HIV knowledge and skills; and in decreasing stigmatization of PLWH. This process evaluation aims to give a deeper understanding of the quasi-experimental evaluation which was conducted in the 27 high schools of Aden, and to highlight the factors that facilitated or inhibited school peer education in such a conservative Muslim setting. Qualitative methodologies were pursued, where 12 focus group discussions and 12 in-depth interviews were conducted with peer educators, targeted students, school principals, social workers, and parents of peer educators. Results revealed that school-peer education was well received. There was an apparent positive effect on the life skills of peer educators, but the intervention had a lesser effect on targeted students. Key enabling factors have been the high quality of training for peer educators, supportive school principals, and acceptance of the intervention by parents. These findings are important for improving the life skills and peer education intervention at the school level, and in better planning and implementation of life skills and peer programmes at a national scale.
PMCID: PMC3914420  PMID: 23777570
school-based intervention; peer education; HIV prevention; process evaluation; Diffusion of Innovation; Yemen; programme au sein de l'école; l'éducation donnée par les pairs; la prévention du VIH; l'évaluation du processus éducatif; la diffusion des innovations; le Yémen
6.  The Influence of Two Different Invitation Letters on Chlamydia Testing Participation: Randomized Controlled Trial 
In the Netherlands, screening for chlamydia (the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection worldwide) is a relatively simple and free procedure. Via an invitation letter sent by the public health services (PHS), people are asked to visit a website to request a test kit. They can then do a chlamydia test at home, send it anonymously to a laboratory, and, within two weeks, they can review their test results online and be treated by their general practitioner or the PHS. Unfortunately, the participation rates are low and the process is believed to be not (cost-) effective.
The objective of this study was to assess whether the low participation rate of screening for chlamydia at home, via an invitation letter asking to visit a website and request a test kit, could be improved by optimizing the invitation letter through systematically applied behavior change theories and evidence.
The original letter and a revised letter were randomly sent out to 13,551 citizens, 16 to 29 years old, in a Dutch municipality. Using behavior change theories, the revised letter sought to increase motivation to conduct chlamydia screening tests. The revised letter was tailored to beliefs that were found in earlier studies: risk perception, advantages and disadvantages (attitude), moral norm, social influence, and response- and self-efficacy. Revisions to the new letter also sought to avoid possible unwanted resistance caused when people feel pressured, and included prompts to trigger the desired behavior.
No significant differences in test package requests were found between the two letters. There were also no differences between the original and revised letters in the rates of returned tests (11.80%, 581/4922 vs 11.07%, 549/4961) or positive test results (4.8%, 23/484 vs 4.1%, 19/460). It is evident that the new letter did not improve participation compared to the original letter.
It is clear that the approach of inviting the target population through a letter does not lead to higher participation rates for chlamydia screening. Other approaches have to be developed and pilot tested.
PMCID: PMC3936267  PMID: 24480721
invitation letter; chlamydia; screening; testing; behavior change theories
7.  Parental information-seeking behaviour in childhood vaccinations 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1219.
People want to be well informed and ask for more information regarding their health. The public can use different sources (i.e. the Internet, health care providers, friends, family, television, radio, and newspapers) to access information about their health. Insight into the types and sources of vaccine related information that parents use, and reasons why they seek extra information is needed to improve the existing information supply about childhood vaccinations.
Dutch parents with one or more children aged 0–4 years received an online questionnaire (N = 4000) measuring psychosocial determinants of information-seeking behaviour and self-reports of types and sources of vaccine information searched for (response rate 14.8%). We also tested two invitation approaches (i.e., reply card versus Internet link in invitation letter) to observe the difference in response rate.
Almost half of the parents (45.8%) searched for extra information. Of all the respondents, 13% indicated they had missed some information, particularly about side effects of vaccines (25%). Intention to search for vaccination information was influenced by positive attitude and perceived social norm towards information-seeking behaviour. There was no difference in the response rate between the two invitation approaches.
The information provided by the National Immunization Programme (NIP) might be sufficient for most parents. However, some parents mentioned that they did not receive enough information about side effects of vaccinations, which was also the topic most searched for by parents. Public Health Institutes (PHIs) and child healthcare workers should therefore be aware of the importance to mention this aspect in their communication (materials) towards parents. The PHIs must ensure that their website is easy to find with different search strategies. Since the child healthcare worker is perceived as the most reliable information source, they should be aware of their role in educating parents about the NIP.
PMCID: PMC3909325  PMID: 24358990
Information seeking; Information need; Internet; Reasoned action approach; Health communication; Vaccination
8.  Why parents refuse childhood vaccination: a qualitative study using online focus groups 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1183.
In high income countries, vaccine-preventable diseases have been greatly reduced through routine vaccination programs. Despite this success, many parents question, and a small proportion even refuse vaccination for their children. As no qualitative studies have explored the factors behind these decisions among Dutch parents, we performed a study using online focus groups.
In total, eight online focus groups (n = 60) which included Dutch parents with at least one child, aged 0–4 years, for whom they refused all or part of the vaccinations within the National Immunization Program (NIP). A thematic analysis was performed to explore factors that influenced the parents’ decisions to refuse vaccination.
Refusal of vaccination was found to reflect multiple factors including family lifestyle; perceptions about the child’s body and immune system; perceived risks of disease, vaccine efficacy, and side effects; perceived advantages of experiencing the disease; prior negative experience with vaccination; and social environment. The use of online focus groups proved to be an effective qualitative research method providing meaningful data.
Information provided by the NIP turned out to be insufficient for this group of parents. More trust in the NIP and deliberate decisions might result from increased parental understanding of lifestyle and disease susceptibility, the impact of vaccinations on the immune system, and the relative risks of diseases and their vaccines. The public health institute should also inform parents that the NIP is recommended but non-mandatory.
PMCID: PMC3878652  PMID: 24341406
Childhood vaccination; Immunization; On-line focus group; Qualitative study; Decision-making; Beliefs
9.  Non-participation in chlamydia screening in the Netherlands: determinants associated with young people’s intention to participate in chlamydia screening 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1091.
In the Netherlands, a national chlamydia screening program started in 2008, but the participation was low and the screening was not cost-effective. This study aimed to explore unconscious and conscious associations with chlamydia screening (16-29 year-olds). In addition, we examined whether information presented in chlamydia screening invitation letters had an effect on the evaluation of these determinants compared to a no-letter group.
An Internet survey was conducted that included self-report measures of attitude, susceptibility, severity, unrealistic optimism, subjective, moral, and descriptive norm, perceived behavioral control, outcome expectations, barriers, intention, and a response time measure to assess unconscious associations of chlamydia screening with annoyance, threat and reassurance.
On the unconscious level, participants (N = 713) who received no information letter associated testing for chlamydia with annoyance and threat, but also with reassurance (all p’s < .001). On the self-report measures, participants showed a low intention towards chlamydia screening (M = 1.42, range 1–5). Subjective norm, moral norm, perceived susceptibility and attitude were the most important predictors of the intention to screen (R2 = .56). Participants who rated their susceptibility as high also reported more risky behaviors (p < .001).
In the groups that received a letter (N = 735), a weaker unconscious association of chlamydia screening with annoyance was found compared with the no-letter group (p < .001), but no differences were found in reassurance or threat. Furthermore, the letters caused a higher intention (p < .001), but intention remained low (M = 1.74). On a conscious level, giving information caused a more positive attitude, higher susceptibility, a higher subjective and moral norm, and more positive outcome expectations (all p’s < .001).
Subjective norm, moral norm, susceptibility, and attitude towards chlamydia might be crucial targets to increase chlamydia screening behavior among sexually active young people. This study shows that informational invitation letters increase the intention and the intention-predicting variables. More evidence is needed on whether screening behavior can be increased by the use of an alternative information letter adapted to the specific unconscious and conscious determinants revealed in this study, or that we need other, more interactive behavior change methods.
PMCID: PMC4222760  PMID: 24266906
Chlamydia screening; Participation; Non-response; Determinants; Implicit associations
10.  Monitoring Dietary Intake and Physical Activity Electronically: Feasibility, Usability, and Ecological Validity of a Mobile-Based Ecological Momentary Assessment Tool 
Despite the growing body of research on complex lifestyle behaviors (eg, Dietary Intake [DI] and Physical Activity [PA]), monitoring of these behaviors has been hampered by a lack of suitable methods. A possible solution to this deficiency is mobile-based Ecological Momentary Assessment (mEMA), which enables researchers to collect data on participants’ states in real-time by means of a smartphone application. However, feasibility, usability, and ecological validity need to be anticipated and managed in order to enhance the validity of mEMA.
To examine the feasibility, usability, and ecological validity of a mEMA application (app) with regard to DI and PA among Dutch vocational education students.
The students (n=30) participated in the mEMA study for seven consecutive days. They downloaded the mEMA app on their smartphone. Feasibility and usability of the mEMA app were evaluated by completing an online evaluation after seven days of participation. Ecological validity was measured by assessing the degree to which the content of the mEMA app approximated the real-world setting that was being examined, through several multiple-choice questions.
Compliance rates, as registered by the mEMA app, declined 46% over a seven-day period, while self-reported compliance, as measured with an online evaluation questionnaire afterwards, indicated a smaller decrease in compliance (29%). The students evaluated the mEMA app as feasible and usable. Ecological validity analyses showed that all DI and almost all PA multiple-choice options were covered with the compound response categories.
The mEMA app offers the opportunity to assess complex health behaviors (eg, DI and PA) in real-time settings, in which specifically routinized behaviors are involved. However, the mEMA app faced several challenges that needed to be overcome in order to improve its validity. Overall, the present study showed that the mEMA app is a usable and ecologically valid tool to measure DI and PA behaviors among vocational education students, but compliance is still limited.
PMCID: PMC3785990  PMID: 24067298
mobile-based Ecological Momentary Assessment (mEMA); feasibility; usability; ecological validity; dietary intake; physical activity
11.  Qualitative evaluation of the Teenage Mothers Project in Uganda: a community-based empowerment intervention for unmarried teenage mothers 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:816.
A large proportion of unmarried teenage mothers in Uganda face physical, psychological, and social problems after pregnancy and childbirth, such as obstetric complications, lack of education, and stigmatisation in their communities. The Teenage Mothers Project (TMP) in Eastern Uganda empowers unmarried teenage mothers to cope with the consequences of early pregnancy and motherhood. Since 2000, 1036 unmarried teenage mothers, their parents, and community leaders participated in economic and social empowerment interventions. The present study explored the changes resulting from the TMP as well as factors that either enabled or inhibited these changes.
Semi-structured interviews (N = 23) were conducted with former teenage mothers , community leaders, and project implementers, and lifeline histories were obtained from former teenage mothers (N = 9). Quantitative monitoring data regarding demographic and social characteristics of teenage mother participants (N = 1036) were analysed.
The findings suggest that, overall, the TMP seems to have contributed to the well-being of unmarried teenage mothers and to a supportive social environment. It appears that the project contributed to supportive community norms towards teenage mothers’ position and future opportunities, increased agency, improved coping with early motherhood and stigma, continued education, and increased income generation by teenage mothers. The study findings also suggest limited change in disapproving community norms regarding out-of-wedlock sex and pregnancy, late active enrolment of teenage mothers in the project (i.e., ten months after delivery of the child), and differences in the extent to which parents provided support.
It is concluded that strengths of the community-based TMP seem to be its socio-ecological approach, the participatory planning with community leaders and other stakeholders, counselling of parents and unmarried teenage mothers, and the emphasis on education and income generation. The project can improve by earlier active participation of unmarried pregnant adolescents and increased support for parents.
PMCID: PMC3846560  PMID: 24011141
Empowerment; Stigma; Teenage pregnancy; Qualitative evaluation; Agency; Community; Social change
12.  A qualitative study of the coverage of influenza vaccination on Dutch news sites and social media websites 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:547.
Information about influenza and the effectiveness of vaccination against influenza is largely available on the Internet, and may influence individual decision making about participation in future influenza vaccination rounds. E-health information has often been found to be inaccurate, or even to contradict Health Authority recommendations, especially when it concerns controversial topics.
By means of an online media monitoring programme, Dutch news sites and social media websites were scanned for the Dutch counterparts of the terms influenza, vaccination, vaccine and epidemic during February, March and April 2012. Data were processed with QSR NVivo 8.0 and analysed using a general inductive approach.
Three overarching themes were found in both media sources: (1) the (upcoming) influenza epidemic, (2) general information regarding the virus, its prevention and treatment, and (3) uncertainty and mistrust regarding influenza vaccination. Social media tended to report earlier on developments such as the occurrence of an influenza epidemic. The greatest difference was that in social media, influenza was not considered to be a serious disease, and more opposition to the flu shot was expressed in social media, as compared to news media.
News media and social media discussed the same topics regarding influenza, but differed in message tone. Whereas news media reports tended to be more objective and non-judgmental, social media more critically evaluated the harmfulness of influenza and the necessity of the flu shot. Media may influence decision making and behaviours of Internet users and may thereby influence the success of vaccination campaigns and recommendations made by health authorities. Social media may be more of a problem in this sense, since it is neither controlled nor censored. Future research should investigate the actual impact of Internet media on the influenza decision making process of its users.
PMCID: PMC3679872  PMID: 23738769
E-health; Social media; Influenza; Influenza vaccination
13.  Changing mobility patterns and road mortality among pre-license teens in a late licensing country: an epidemiological study 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:333.
Whereas the safety of teens in early licensing countries has been extensively studied, little is known about the safety of pre-license teens in late licensing countries, where these teens also may be at risk. This risk exists because of the combination of a) increasing use of travel modes with a high injury risk, such as bicycles and mopeds, b) inexperience, and c) teens’ developmental stage, known to be associated with risk taking and novelty seeking, especially among males. To explore the magnitude and nature of pre-license road risk, this study analysed epidemiological data from the Netherlands, and hypothesized that in this late licensing country, ‘independent travel’ and the use of riskier modes of transport increase among pre-license teens 10 to 17 years of age, resulting in higher fatality rates, with ‘experience’ and ‘gender’ as risk modifying factors.
National travel and fatality data of pre-license adolescents in the Netherlands were analysed by traffic role (cyclist, pedestrian, car passenger and moped rider), and compared to a younger age group (0–9 years) and an older age group (18+ years).
The study of travel data showed that teens migrate from being car occupants to being users of riskier modes of transport, specifically bicycles and mopeds. This migration resulted in a strong rise in road fatalities, illustrating the importance of mobility patterns for understanding changes in road fatalities in this age group. The data further suggested a protective role of early cycle experience for young adolescent cyclists, particularly for young males. But further study into the underlying mechanism is needed to confirm this relationship. Moped risk was extremely high, especially among young males, and even higher than that of young male car drivers.
The study confirmed the importance of changes in mobility patterns for understanding the rising road mortality when youngsters enter into their teens. The focus on fatalities has led to an underestimation of the magnitude of the problem because of the physical resilience of young adolescents that leads to high survival rates but probably also to long term disabilities. In addition, to explore the generalizability of these results, international comparisons among and between early and late licensing countries are necessary, especially in relation to moped riding as an alternative for car driving.
PMCID: PMC3636125  PMID: 23577703
Modal split; Late licensing; Early adolescence; Road risk; Moped riders; Cyclists
14.  Constructing a Theory- and Evidence-Based Treatment Rationale for Complex eHealth Interventions: Development of an Online Alcohol Intervention Using an Intervention Mapping Approach 
JMIR Research Protocols  2013;2(1):e6.
Due to limited reporting of intervention rationale, little is known about what distinguishes a good intervention from a poor one. To support improved design, there is a need for comprehensive reports on novel and complex theory-based interventions. Specifically, the emerging trend of just-in-time tailoring of content in response to change in target behavior or emotional state is promising.
The objective of this study was to give a systematic and comprehensive description of the treatment rationale of an online alcohol intervention called Balance.
We used the intervention mapping protocol to describe the treatment rationale of Balance. The intervention targets at-risk drinking, and it is delivered by email, mobile phone text messaging, and tailored interactive webpages combining text, pictures, and prerecorded audio.
The rationale of the current treatment was derived from a self-regulation perspective, and the overarching idea was to support continued self-regulation throughout the behavior change process. Maintaining the change efforts over time and coping adaptively during critical moments (eg, immediately before and after a lapse) are key factors to successful behavior change. Important elements of the treatment rationale to achieving these elements were: (1) emotion regulation as an inoculation strategy against self-regulation failure, (2) avoiding lapses by adaptive coping, and (3) avoiding relapse by resuming the change efforts after a lapse. Two distinct and complementary delivery strategies were used, including a day-to-day tunnel approach in combination with just-in-time therapy. The tunnel strategy was in accordance with the need for continuous self-regulation and it functions as a platform from which just-in-time therapy was launched. Just-in-time therapy was used to support coping during critical moments, and started when the client reports either low self-efficacy or that they were drinking above target levels.
The descriptions of the treatment rationale for Balance, the alcohol intervention reported herein, provides an intervention blueprint that will aid in interpreting the results from future program evaluations. It will ease comparisons of program rationales across interventions, and may assist intervention development. By putting just-in-time therapy within a complete theoretical and practical context, including the tunnel delivery strategy and the self-regulation perspective, we have contributed to an understanding of how multiple delivery strategies in eHealth interventions can be combined. Additionally, this is a call for action to improve the reporting practices within eHealth research. Possible ways to achieve such improvement include using a systematic and structured approach, and for intervention reports to be published after peer-review and separately from evaluation reports.
PMCID: PMC3629462  PMID: 23612478
early intervention; at-risk drinkers; hazardous drinking; harmful drinking; intervention mapping; Internet, cell phone, eHealth, short message service
15.  A Web-Based Intervention for Health Professionals and Patients to Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Attributable to Physical Inactivity: Development Process 
JMIR Research Protocols  2012;1(2):e21.
Patients with cardiovascular risk factors can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing their physical activity and their physical fitness. According to the guidelines for cardiovascular risk management, health professionals should encourage their patients to engage in physical activity.
In this paper, we provide insight regarding the systematic development of a Web-based intervention for both health professionals and patients with cardiovascular risk factors using the development method Intervention Mapping. The different steps of Intervention Mapping are described to open up the “black box” of Web-based intervention development and to support future Web-based intervention development.
The development of the Professional and Patient Intention and Behavior Intervention (PIB2 intervention) was initiated with a needs assessment for both health professionals (ie, physiotherapy and nursing) and their patients. We formulated performance and change objectives and, subsequently, theory- and evidence-based intervention methods and strategies were selected that were thought to affect the intention and behavior of health professionals and patients. The rationale of the intervention was based on different behavioral change methods that allowed us to describe the scope and sequence of the intervention and produced the Web-based intervention components. The Web-based intervention consisted of 5 modules, including individualized messages and self-completion forms, and charts and tables.
The systematic and planned development of the PIB2 intervention resulted in an Internet-delivered behavior change intervention. The intervention was not developed as a substitute for face-to-face contact between professionals and patients, but as an application to complement and optimize health services. The focus of the Web-based intervention was to extend professional behavior of health care professionals, as well as to improve the risk-reduction behavior of patients with cardiovascular risk factors.
The Intervention Mapping protocol provided a systematic method for developing the intervention and each intervention design choice was carefully thought-out and justified. Although it was not a rapid or an easy method for developing an intervention, the protocol guided and directed the development process. The application of evidence-based behavior change methods used in our intervention offers insight regarding how an intervention may change intention and health behavior. The Web-based intervention appeared feasible and was implemented. Further research will test the effectiveness of the PIB2 intervention.
Trial Registration
Dutch Trial Register, Trial ID: ECP-92
PMCID: PMC3626153  PMID: 23612470
Internet intervention; Intervention Mapping; Health education; Health behaviour change; Health professionals; Cardiovascular risk
16.  Methods for environmental change; an exploratory study 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1037.
While the interest of health promotion researchers in change methods directed at the target population has a long tradition, interest in change methods directed at the environment is still developing. In this survey, the focus is on methods for environmental change; especially about how these are composed of methods for individual change (‘Bundling’) and how within one environmental level, organizations, methods differ when directed at the management (‘At’) or applied by the management (‘From’).
The first part of this online survey dealt with examining the ‘bundling’ of individual level methods to methods at the environmental level. The question asked was to what extent the use of an environmental level method would involve the use of certain individual level methods. In the second part of the survey the question was whether there are differences between applying methods directed ‘at’ an organization (for instance, by a health promoter) versus ‘from’ within an organization itself. All of the 20 respondents are experts in the field of health promotion.
Methods at the individual level are frequently bundled together as part of a method at a higher ecological level. A number of individual level methods are popular as part of most of the environmental level methods, while others are not chosen very often. Interventions directed at environmental agents often have a strong focus on the motivational part of behavior change.
There are different approaches targeting a level or being targeted from a level. The health promoter will use combinations of motivation and facilitation. The manager will use individual level change methods focusing on self-efficacy and skills. Respondents think that any method may be used under the right circumstances, although few endorsed coercive methods.
Taxonomies of theoretical change methods for environmental change should include combinations of individual level methods that may be bundled and separate suggestions for methods targeting a level or being targeted from a level. Future research needs to cover more methods to rate and to be rated. Qualitative data may explain some of the surprising outcomes, such as the lack of large differences and the avoidance of coercion. Taxonomies should include the theoretical parameters that limit the effectiveness of the method.
PMCID: PMC3533988  PMID: 23190712
Behavior change method; Environment; Health promotion; Intervention
17.  Reactions to threatening health messages 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1011.
Threatening health messages that focus on severity are popular, but frequently have no effect or even a counterproductive effect on behavior change. This paradox (i.e. wide application despite low effectiveness) may be partly explained by the intuitive appeal of threatening communication: it may be hard to predict the defensive reactions occurring in response to fear appeals. We examine this hypothesis by using two studies by Brown and colleagues, which provide evidence that threatening health messages in the form of distressing imagery in anti-smoking and anti-alcohol campaigns cause defensive reactions.
We simulated both Brown et al. experiments, asking participants to estimate the reactions of the original study subjects to the threatening health information (n = 93). Afterwards, we presented the actual original study outcomes. One week later, we assessed whether this knowledge of the actual study outcomes helped participants to more successfully estimate the effectiveness of the threatening health information (n = 72).
Results showed that participants were initially convinced of the effectiveness of threatening health messages and were unable to anticipate the defensive reactions that in fact occurred. Furthermore, these estimates did not improve after participants had been explained the dynamics of threatening communication as well as what the effects of the threatening communication had been in reality.
These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the effectiveness of threatening health messages is intuitively appealing. What is more, providing empirical evidence against the use of threatening health messages has very little effect on this intuitive appeal.
PMCID: PMC3575362  PMID: 23171445
Threatening health messages; Defensive reactions; Smokers; Drinkers
18.  Factors That Influence Vaccination Decision-Making by Parents Who Visit an Anthroposophical Child Welfare Center: A Focus Group Study 
In recent years, parents have become more disparaging towards childhood vaccination. One group that is critical about the National Immunization Program (NIP) and participates less comprises parents with an anthroposophical worldview. Despite the fact that various studies have identified anthroposophists as critical parents with lower vaccination coverage, no research has been done to explore the beliefs underlying their childhood vaccination decision-making. We conducted a qualitative study using three focus groups (n = 16) of parents who visit an anthroposophical child welfare center. Our findings show that participants did not refuse all vaccinations within the Dutch NIP, but mostly refused the Mumps, Measles, and Rubella (MMR) vaccination. Vaccination decisions are influenced by participants' lifestyle, perception of health, beliefs about childhood diseases, perceptions about the risks of diseases, perceptions about vaccine effectiveness and vaccine components, and trust in institutions. Parents indicated that they felt a need for more information. Sufficient references should be provided to sources containing more information about childhood vaccination, especially about the effectiveness of vaccines and vaccine components and the risks, such as possible side effects and benefits of vaccination. This may satisfy parents' information needs and enable them to make a sufficiently informed choice whether or not to vaccinate their child.
PMCID: PMC3508517  PMID: 23209917
19.  Determinants of intention to get tested for STI/HIV among the Surinamese and Antilleans in the Netherlands: results of an online survey 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:961.
High infection rates of STIs are found among the different ethnic communities living in the Netherlands, especially among the Surinamese and Dutch-Antilleans. Only limited effective interventions that promote STI/HIV testing among these communities are available in the Netherlands. In the present study we identified the determinants of the intention to get tested for STI/HIV of the sexually active Surinamese and Dutch-Antilleans living in the Netherlands. Secondly, this study assesses which determinants should be addressed when promoting STI/HIV testing among these communities.
In total, 450 Surinamese and 303 Dutch-Antillean respondents were recruited through Dutch Internet panels and group activities. The questionnaire used in the online survey was based on the concepts of the Health Belief Model, the Social Cognitive Theory, and Theory of Planned behavior. To correct for multiple outcome testing, we considered differences as statistically significant at p<.01 for all analyses. For the multivariate linear regression analysis, variables that were significant were entered into the model block-wise.
Health motivation, cues to action, subjective norms, risk behavior, test history, open communication about sexuality, and marital status were important (univariate) predictors of the intention to get tested for STI/HIV for both the Surinamese and Dutch-Antillean respondents. For both the Surinamese and Dutch-Antilleans, subjective norms were the most salient predictor of the intention to get tested in multivariate analyses, explaining 10% and 13% of the variance respectively; subjective norms had a direct influence on the intention for both the Surinamese and the Dutch-Antilleans.
The strong correlation and predictive power of subjective norms on the intention to get tested for STI/HIV, endorses the importance of focusing on community-based intervention rather than focusing on personal determinants, to change the present perceptions and attitudes towards testing. Health promoting programs should be aimed at promoting open communication regarding sexuality and testing. Stimulating each other to get tested frequently could also help achieving the desired behavior.
PMCID: PMC3599572  PMID: 23136830
Health Belief Model; STI testing; Surinamese; Dutch-Antilleans; Subjective norms; Culturally relevant
20.  Correlates of delayed sexual intercourse and condom use among adolescents in Uganda: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:817.
Comprehensive sex education, including the promotion of consistent condom use, is still an important intervention strategy in tackling unplanned pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Ugandan adolescents. This study examines predictors of the intention to use a condom and the intention to delay sexual intercourse among secondary school students (aged 12–20) in Uganda.
A school-based sample was drawn from 48 secondary schools throughout Uganda. Participants (N = 1978) completed a survey in English measuring beliefs regarding pregnancy, STIs and HIV and AIDS, attitudes, social norms and self-efficacy towards condom use and abstinence/delay, intention to use a condom and intention to delay sexual intercourse. As secondary sexual abstinence is one of the recommended ways for preventing HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancies among the sexually experienced, participants with and without previous sexual experience were compared.
For adolescents without sexual experience (virgins), self-efficacy, perceived social norms and attitude towards condom use predicted the intention to use condoms. Among those with sexual experience (non-virgins), only perceived social norm was a significant predictor. The intention to delay sexual intercourse was, however, predicted similarly for both groups, with attitudes, perceived social norm and self-efficacy being significant predictors.
This study has established relevant predictors of intentions of safe sex among young Ugandans and has shown that the intention to use condoms is motivated by different factors depending on previous sexual experience. A segmented approach to intervention development and implementation is thus recommended.
PMCID: PMC3503743  PMID: 22998762
Ugandan adolescents; Delayed sexual intercourse; Condom use; Attitudes; Social norms; Self-efficacy; Segmented approach; sub-Saharan Africa
21.  Promoting STI testing among senior vocational students in Rotterdam, the Netherlands: effects of a cluster randomized study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:937.
Adolescents are a risk group for acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In the Netherlands, senior vocational school students are particular at risk. However, STI test rates among adolescents are low and interventions that promote testing are scarce. To enhance voluntary STI testing, an intervention was designed and evaluated in senior vocational schools. The intervention combined classroom health education with sexual health services at the school site. The purpose of this study was to assess the combined and single effects on STI testing of health education and school-based sexual health services.
In a cluster-randomized study the intervention was evaluated in 24 schools, using three experimental conditions: 1) health education, 2) sexual health services; 3) both components; and a control group. STI testing was assessed by self reported behavior and registrations at regional sexual health services. Follow-up measurements were performed at 1, 3, and 6-9 months. Of 1302 students present at baseline, 739 (57%) completed at least 1 follow-up measurement, of these students 472 (64%) were sexually experienced, and considered to be susceptible for the intervention. Multi-level analyses were conducted. To perform analyses according to the principle of intention-to-treat, missing observations at follow-up on the outcome measure were imputed with multiple imputation techniques. Results were compared with the complete cases analysis.
Sexually experienced students that received the combined intervention of health education and sexual health services reported more STI testing (29%) than students in the control group (4%) (OR = 4.3, p < 0.05). Test rates in the group that received education or sexual health services only were 5.7% and 19.9%, not reaching statistical significance in multilevel analyses. Female students were more often tested then male students: 21.5% versus 5.4%. The STI-prevalence in the study group was low with 1.4%.
Despite a low dose of intervention that was received by the students and a high attrition, we were able to show an intervention effect among sexually experienced students on STI testing. This study confirmed our hypothesis that offering health education to vocational students in combination with sexual health services at school sites is more effective in enhancing STI testing than offering services or education only.
PMCID: PMC3285102  PMID: 22177021
22.  The development of an adolescent smoking cessation intervention—an Intervention Mapping approach to planning 
Health Education Research  2011;27(1):172-181.
The objective of this project was to develop a theory- and evidence-based adolescent smoking cessation intervention using both new and existing materials. We used the Intervention Mapping framework for planning health promotion programmes. Based on a needs assessment, we identified important and changeable determinants of cessation behaviour, specified change objectives for the intervention programme, selected theoretical change methods for accomplishing intervention objectives and finally operationalized change methods into practical intervention strategies. We found that guided practice, modelling, self-monitoring, coping planning, consciousness raising, dramatic relief and decisional balance were suitable methods for adolescent smoking cessation. We selected behavioural journalism, guided practice and Motivational Interviewing as strategies in our intervention. Intervention Mapping helped us to develop as systematic adolescent smoking cessation intervention with a clear link between behavioural goals, theoretical methods, practical strategies and materials and with a strong focus on implementation and recruitment. This paper does not present evaluation data.
PMCID: PMC3258281  PMID: 21730251
23.  Reasons for compliance or noncompliance with advice to test for hepatitis C via an internet-mediated blood screening service: a qualitative study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:293.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mainly transmitted by exposure to infected blood, and can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Since the onset of HCV and the development of liver cirrhosis usually are asymptomatic, many HCV-infected individuals are still undiagnosed. To identify individuals infected with HCV in the general population, a low threshold, internet-mediated blood testing service was set up. We performed a qualitative study examining reasons for compliance and noncompliance with advice to test for HCV via the online blood testing service.
Semistructured telephone interviews were conducted with 33 website visitors who had been advised to test for HCV (18 testers, 15 non-testers). Transcribed interviews were analyzed qualitatively and interpreted using psychosocial theories of health behavior.
Reasons for testing pertaining to the online service were: the testing procedure is autonomous, personalized test advice is provided online, reminder emails are sent, and there is an online planning tool. Reasons for testing not specific to the online service were: knowing one's status can prevent liver disease and further transmission of HCV, HCV is curable, testing can provide reassurance, physical complaints are present, and there is liver disease in one's social environment. Service-related reasons for not testing pertained to inconvenient testing facilities, a lack of commitment due to the low threshold character of the service, computer/printing problems, and incorrectly interpreting an online planning tool. The reasons for not testing that are not specific to the online service were: the belief that personal risk is low, the absence of symptoms, low perceived urgency for testing and treatment, fear of the consequences of a positive test result, avoiding threatening information, and a discouraging social environment.
Features specific to the online service played a significant role in motivation to test for HCV above and beyond the more conventional perceived health benefits of HCV testing. However, some online specific features were considered problematic and need to be adapted. Methods and strategies for dealing with these impeding factors and for improving compliance with testing via the online service are outlined.
PMCID: PMC3115858  PMID: 21569224
24.  Evaluation of a school-based HIV prevention intervention among Yemeni adolescents 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:279.
This article describes an evaluation of a school-based peer education intervention for HIV prevention among students in twenty seven high schools in Aden, Yemen. The intervention was developed after a survey among the same population in 2005, which revealed a high level of stigma towards people living with HIV (PLWH) and a low level of HIV knowledge.
In a quasi-experimental design students who received the peer education intervention (78.6%) were compared with students who did not receive the intervention (21.4%). No systematic procedure was applied in selecting students for the intervention condition. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire from a sample of 2510 students from all 27 high-schools in Aden governorate. To increase internal validity, students were also compared with a cohort control sample surveyed in 2005, which was a random sample of 2274 students from the same schools.
Sixty eight percent of students targeted by peer education had good knowledge scores, compared with 43.3% of students not targeted by peer education (χ2 = (df = 1) = 111.15, p < .01). Multi-level regression analysis revealed that, although there was a significant difference among schools, the intervention effect of peer education at the individual level was significant; students who received peer education had a statistically higher knowledge score(9.24 out of 12.0) compared with those not targeted (7.89 out of 12.0), OR = 2.11, 95% CI = 1.04-4.27, p < .05). Compared with the 2005 cohort control sample, students targeted by peer education had better knowledge on the modes of transmission and prevention and fewer misconceptions; and knowledge on the use of condoms increased from 49.4% to 67.8%. In addition, students who received the peer education interventions suggested significantly more actions to provide care and support for PLWH. Also, the levels of stigma and discrimination were much higher among the 2005 cohort control group, compared with those who received the peer education intervention.
The school-based peer education intervention has succeeded in improving levels of knowledge on modes of transmission and prevention, and in decreasing levels of stigma and discrimination in a culturally conservative setting.
PMCID: PMC3112119  PMID: 21548968
25.  The World Starts With Me: using intervention mapping for the systematic adaptation and transfer of school-based sexuality education from Uganda to Indonesia 
Evidence-based health promotion programmes, including HIV/AIDS prevention and sexuality education programmes, are often transferred to other cultures, priority groups and implementation settings. Challenges in this process include the identification of retaining core elements that relate to the programme’s effectiveness while making changes that enhances acceptance in the new context and for the new priority group. This paper describes the use of a systematic approach to programme adaptation using a case study as an example. Intervention Mapping, a protocol for the development of evidence-based behaviour change interventions, was used to adapt the comprehensive school-based sexuality education programme ‘The World Starts With Me’. The programme was developed for a priority population in Uganda and adapted to a programme for Indonesian secondary school students. The approach helped to systematically address the complexity and challenges of programme adaptation and to find a balance between preservation of essential programme elements (i.e. logic models) that may be crucial to the programme’s effectiveness, including key objectives and theoretical behaviour change methods, and the adaptation of the programme to be acceptable to the new priority group and the programme implementers.
PMCID: PMC3120974  PMID: 21765883
Intervention mapping; Systematic adaptation; Fidelity; Logic model; Indonesia

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