Personalized Virtual Coaching for Lifestyle Support: Principles for Design and Evaluation

Olga Kulyk, Rieks op den Akker, Randy Klaassen, Lisette van Gemert-Pijnen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
212 Downloads (Pure)


There is a fast growing number of behavior change support systems (BCSS) aiming at supporting a healthy lifestyle. Existing lifestyle coaching services offer individual users access to web portals where they can communicate about a growing number of ingredients of everyday life concern: physical activity, nutrition, medication, mood, sleep and sexual health. Mobile technology in combination with body worn sensors support user’s awareness of their physical condition and lifestyle. Despite the large number of available lifestyle interventions and pilot trials, only very few are successfully transferred into the real health care practice. Low usability and lack of transparency on the reliability and trustworthiness of the information are just a few examples of the major barriers for successful implementation. Traditional metric for measuring effects of behavior change support system are not suited for early stage health technologies. Professionals from the field of health and social psychology, and potential end users should be involved not only in the design and effects evaluation of BCSS, but also in the iterative process evaluation of these systems. Qualitative evaluation studies focused on the user experiences with technology can help researchers to understand what persuasive features can enhance adherence, motivate people and how this technology should be further developed to optimally match the needs of real users in daily healthcare practice. Based on two user studies, we present general guidelines for design and evaluation of lifestyle support systems with personalized virtual coaching. The first field study focuses on design and evaluation of a mobile physical activity coaching system. The second user study focuses on design factors that influence the attitudes of high-risk adolescents towards virtual coaching in mobile eHealth applications and social media. We present a new approach that integrates an animated digital coach in an activity monitoring lifestyle change support system. The main contribution of this paper are practical recommendations for persuasive design and evaluation methodology combining established methods from Human Computer Interaction and eHealth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-309
JournalInternational journal on advances in life sciences
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2014


  • 2024 OA procedure


Dive into the research topics of 'Personalized Virtual Coaching for Lifestyle Support: Principles for Design and Evaluation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this