Using Instructional Design process to improve design and development of an Internet interventions

October 20, 2017 by School of Medicine Webmaster

Given the wide reach and extensive capabilities of the Internet, it is increasingly being used to deliver comprehensive behavioral and mental health intervention and prevention programs. Their goals are to change user behavior, reduce unwanted complications or symptoms, and improve health status and health-related quality of life. Internet interventions have been found efficacious in addressing a wide range of behavioral and mental health problems, including insomnia, nicotine dependence, obesity, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. Despite the existence of many Internet-based interventions, there is little research to inform their design and development. A model for behavior change in Internet interventions has been published to help guide future Internet intervention development and to help predict and explain behavior changes and symptom improvement outcomes through the use of Internet interventions. An argument is made for grounding the development of Internet interventions within a scientific framework. To that end, the model highlights a multitude of design-related components, areas, and elements, including user characteristics, environment, intervention content, level of intervention support, and targeted outcomes. However, more discussion is needed regarding how the design of the program should be developed to address these issues. While there is little research on the design and development of Internet interventions, there is a rich, related literature in the field of instructional design (ID) that can be used to inform Internet intervention development. ID models are prescriptive models that describe a set of activities involved in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of instructional programs. Using ID process models has been shown to increase the effectiveness of learning programs in a broad range of contexts. ID models specify a systematic method for assessing the needs of learners (intervention users) to determine the gaps between current knowledge and behaviors, and desired outcomes. Through the ID process, designers focus on the needs of learners, taking into account their prior knowledge; set measurable learning objectives or performance requirements; assess learners’ achievement of the targeted outcomes; and employ cycles of continuous formative evaluation to ensure that the intervention meets the needs of all stakeholders. The ID process offers a proven methodology for the design of instructional programs and should be considered an integral part of the creation of Internet interventions. By providing a framework for the design and development of Internet interventions and by purposefully focusing on these aspects, as well as the underlying theories supporting these practices, both the theories and the interventions themselves can continue to be refined and improved. By using the behavior change model for Internet interventions along with the best research available to guide design practice and inform development, developers of Internet interventions will increase their ability to achieve desired outcomes.