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Abstract

Understanding the persuasive potential of systems to support behavior change is increasingly important. If systems are not designed properly, their persuasive potential is not fulfilled. Previous research has shown that persuasive system design has a significant impact on adherence. Moreover, persuasive system features are likely to be advantageous in boosting effective user engagement with the technology and keeping the users motivated in their endeavors. In this study, we identify persuasive system features used in a selection of Web-based health behavior change support systems targeting excessive alcohol use and weight loss. We conducted en expert-based evaluation using the persuasive systems design model as a lens to view the twelve selected Web-based systems. The evaluation included a hands-on approach in which we used the systems for at least one month each and evaluated in terms of four categories: primary task support, computer-human dialogue support, system credibility, and social support. The results suggest that the systems harness a decent number of persuasive features. However, they had room for improvement (e.g., in terms of tailoring). Further research is needed to increase our understanding of how and under what conditions specific persuasive system features, either in isolation or collectively, lead to positive health outcomes in behavior change support systems across diverse contexts and populations. This study adds to the body of knowledge on designing persuasive health behavior change support systems.

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