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The role of motivational design in health education: An examination of computer-based education on women, smoking and health

, University of Toronto , Canada

University of Toronto . Awarded


This study examined the effects of motivational design on affective and cognitive outcomes of computer-based education on smoking and health among women. A program developed using the principles of Keller's approach to motivational design was compared with a generic web site on smoking created by the Canadian Cancer society. In addition, it used Prochaska's Stages of Change model to examine the effects of frames of reference with respect to smoking cessation.

A sample of 40 adult women who currently smoke or quit within the last six months volunteered to participate in an evaluation of two programs on women, smoking and health: (a) Breath of Fresh Air—a program designed specifically for women and developed with Keller's principles of motivational design as its theoretical underpinning; (b)  Canadian Cancer Society web site—a web-site on smoking and health designed for a generic audience.

The participants in the Breath of Fresh Air were substantially more positive in their response to the software on all measures of motivational outcomes compared with the users of the Cancer Society web site. Moreover, these participants were also more likely to indicate that they were more motivated to quit smoking after using the software than their counterparts in the control group. However, motivation to quit smoking was also clearly affected by the participant's stage of change, such that pre-contemplators were less likely to say that they were more motivated to quit independent of which study group they were in.

This study provided clear evidence that instructional design and frames of reference can both affect outcomes to computer-based health education. Other factors like education, computer experience, and age tended to have only modest effects on a limited set of outcomes. The implication of this work is that efforts to improve population health through computer based education must take into account the characteristics of the target audience in the design of those materials and that strategies to enhance motivation are essential ingredients to the success of those interventions.


Pearson Hirdes, B.A. The role of motivational design in health education: An examination of computer-based education on women, smoking and health. Ph.D. thesis, University of Toronto. Retrieved February 26, 2021 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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