Motivating reflection about health within the family: The use of goal setting and tailored feedback

Nathalie Colineau*, Cécile Paris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


It is widely acknowledged that obesity is a serious health issue. Despite governments' campaigns and initiatives to raise the level of awareness, the proportion of adults classified as overweight or obese is increasing steadily. As a result, there has been a growing interest in Human Computer Interaction and User Modelling to study how to support health behaviour change. While most of the work to date has focused on individuals, medical research has shown that family engagement plays an important role on health behaviour. To consider the family context, we are developing technology that facilitates health discussions and encourages supportive behaviour within the family. We investigate how to motivate members of a family to reflect upon their lifestyle and think of ways in which they can make it healthier. In particular, we have looked at whether providing explicit goals and tailored feedback can have an impact. During a two week trial with families in which we explored these strategies, we found that setting a collective goal for the family influenced how much the family as a whole contributed, and that feedback increased significantly mothers' participation. Our results also suggest that establishing a family goal encouraged families to work together and, in particular, to help each other find ways to be healthier. Finally, 76% of participants reported discussing the task with someone in their family, and, also discussing it together as a family (57%).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-376
Number of pages36
JournalUser Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Evaluation
  • Family support
  • Goal setting theory
  • Health behaviour
  • Lifestyle and wellbeing
  • Motivation strategies


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