Understanding the Usage of Content in a Mental Health Intervention for Depression: An Analysis of Log Data

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    Background: Web-based interventions for the early treatment of depressive symptoms can be considered effective in reducing mental complaints. However, there is a limited understanding of which elements in an intervention contribute to effectiveness. For efficiency and effectiveness of interventions, insight is needed into the use of content and persuasive features.

    Objective: The aims of this study were (1) to illustrate how log data can be used to understand the uptake of the content of a Web-based intervention that is based on the acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and (2) to discover how log data can be of value for improving the incorporation of content in Web-based interventions.

    Methods: Data from 206 participants (out of the 239) who started the first nine lessons of the Web-based intervention, Living to the Full, were used for a secondary analysis of a subset of the log data of the parent study about adherence to the intervention. The log files used in this study were per lesson: login, start mindfulness, download mindfulness, view success story, view feedback message, start multimedia, turn on text-message coach, turn off text-message coach, and view text message. Differences in usage between lessons were explored with repeated measures ANOVAs (analysis of variance). Differences between groups were explored with one-way ANOVAs. To explore the possible predictive value of the login per lesson quartiles on the outcome measures, four linear regressions were used with login quartiles as predictor and with the outcome measures (Center for Epidemiologic Studies—Depression [CES-D] and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale—Anxiety [HADS-A] on post-intervention and follow-up) as dependent variables.

    Results: A significant decrease in logins and in the use of content and persuasive features over time was observed. The usage of features varied significantly during the treatment process. The usage of persuasive features increased during the third part of the ACT (commitment to value-based living), which might indicate that at that stage motivational support was relevant. Higher logins over time (9 weeks) corresponded with a higher usage of features (in most cases significant); when predicting depressive symptoms at post-intervention, the linear regression yielded a significant model with login quartile as a significant predictor (explained variance is 2.7%).

    Conclusions: A better integration of content and persuasive features in the design of the intervention and a better intra-usability of features within the system are needed to identify which combination of features works best for whom. Pattern recognition can be used to tailor the intervention based on usage patterns from the earlier lessons and to support the uptake of content essential for therapy. An adaptable interface for a modular composition of therapy features supposes a dynamic approach for Web-based treatment; not a predefined path for all, but a flexible way to go through all features that have to be used.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere27
    JournalJournal of medical internet research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • METIS-299718
    • IR-88658


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