Using mixed methods to develop and evaluate an online weight management intervention

Katherine Bradbury, Laura Dennison, Paul Little, Lucy Yardley

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

25 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: This article illustrates the use of mixed methods in the development and evaluation of the Positive Online Weight Reduction (POWeR) programme, an e-health intervention designed to support sustainable weight loss. The studies outlined also explore how human support might enhance intervention usage and weight loss.

METHODS: Mixed methods were used to develop and evaluate POWeR. In the development phase, we drew on both quantitative and qualitative findings to plan and gain feedback on the intervention. Next, a feasibility trial, with nested qualitative study, explored what level of human support might lead to the most sustainable weight loss. Finally, a large community-based trial of POWeR, with nested qualitative study, explored whether the addition of brief telephone coaching enhances usage.

RESULTS: Findings suggest that POWeR is acceptable and potentially effective. Providing human support enhanced usage in our trials, but was not unproblematic. Interestingly, there were some indications that more basic (brief) human support may produce more sustainable weight loss outcomes than more regular support. Qualitative interviews suggested that more regular support might foster reliance, meaning patients cannot sustain their weight losses when support ends. Qualitative findings in the community trial also suggested explanations for why many people may not take up the opportunity for human support.

CONCLUSIONS: Integrating findings from both our qualitative and quantitative studies provided far richer insights than would have been gained using only a single method of inquiry. Further research should investigate the optimum delivery of human support needed to maximize sustainable weight loss in online interventions. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? There is evidence that human support may increase the effectiveness of e-health interventions. It is unclear what level of human support might be optimal or how human support improves effectiveness. Triangulation of quantitative and qualitative methods can be used to inform the design and implementation of interventions What does this study add? This paper demonstrates the value of a mixed methods approach when developing and evaluating an intervention. Qualitative methods provided complementary insights into the optimal level of human support. Brief human support is valued by some and may enhance usage and outcomes of an e-health intervention for weight loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2014 The British Psychological Society.

Structured keywords

  • Physical and Mental Health


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Counseling
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Program Evaluation/statistics & numerical data
  • Research Design
  • Social Support
  • Telephone
  • Weight Reduction Programs/methods


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