Health Behavior Change Support Systems as a research discipline; a viewpoint

Saskia M. Kelders*, Harri Oinas-Kukkonen, Anssi Oörni, Julia E.W.C. van Gemert-Pijnen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


As research on Health Behavior Change Support Systems (HBCSS) proliferates, meaningful management of the different findings is becoming a challenge. We argue that for the field to evolve, it is important to establish the study of HBCSSs as an independent research area, which means that instead of only applying theories from related disciplines to HBCSSs, we need to significantly extend and adapt these theories, or develop new theories, to explain the phenomena that are encountered. Current research in HBCSSs is carried out in different disciplines, with a different approach in each of these disciplines. However, both the CeHRes roadmap and the Persuasive System Design Model show that HBCSSs are complex and the development and evaluation of these systems need to deal with this complexity to be successful. Therefore, an integrative approach is needed to study the combination of content, system, and context. Although research into the separate areas has yielded important findings that are discussed in this paper, we argue that an integrated approach of HBCSSs is useful. We discuss two examples to show how a truly integrative approach can be utilized to enhance the field involving tailoring, personalization, and support. In conclusion we present three practical and relatively easy–to-implement recommendations for researchers who want to contribute to this discipline: Avoid the black box, be specific about the terms used, and look past the borders of one’s own discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-10
JournalInternational journal of medical informatics
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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