Assessing the psychometric properties of the digital behavior change intervention engagement scale in users of an app for reducing alcohol consumption: Evaluation study

Olga Perski*, Jim Lumsden, Claire Garnett, Ann Blandford, Robert West, Susan Michie

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)
    148 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: The level and type of engagement with digital behavior change interventions (DBCIs) are likely to influence their effectiveness, but validated self-report measures of engagement are lacking. The DBCI Engagement Scale was designed to assess behavioral (ie, amount, depth of use) and experiential (ie, attention, interest, enjoyment) dimensions of engagement. 

    Objective: We aimed to assess the psychometric properties of the DBCI Engagement Scale in users of a smartphone app for reducing alcohol consumption. 

    Methods: Participants (N=147) were UK-based, adult, excessive drinkers recruited via an online research platform. Participants downloaded the Drink Less app and completed the scale immediately after their first login in exchange for a financial reward. Criterion variables included the objectively recorded amount of use, depth of use, and subsequent login. Five types of validity (ie, construct, criterion, predictive, incremental, divergent) were examined in exploratory factor, correlational, and regression analyses. The Cronbach alpha was calculated to assess the scale’s internal reliability. Covariates included motivation to reduce alcohol consumption. 

    Results: Responses on the DBCI Engagement Scale could be characterized in terms of two largely independent subscales related to experience and behavior. The experiential and behavioral subscales showed high (α=.78) and moderate (α=.45) internal reliability, respectively. Total scale scores predicted future behavioral engagement (ie, subsequent login) with and without adjusting for users’ motivation to reduce alcohol consumption (adjusted odds ratio [ORadj]=1.14; 95% CI 1.03-1.27; P=.01), which was driven by the experiential (ORadj=1.19; 95% CI 1.05-1.34; P=.006) but not the behavioral subscale. 

    Conclusions: The DBCI Engagement Scale assesses behavioral and experiential aspects of engagement. The behavioral subscale may not be a valid indicator of behavioral engagement. The experiential subscale can predict subsequent behavioral engagement with an app for reducing alcohol consumption. Further refinements and validation of the scale in larger samples and across different DBCIs are needed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere16197
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2019


    • Digital behaviour change interventions
    • Engagement
    • Excessive alcohol consumption
    • MHealth
    • Psychometrics
    • Self-report scale
    • Smartphone apps


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