Development and Implementation of a Tailored Self-assessment Tool in an Internet-based Weight Loss Maintenance Program

Kristine L Funk 1, *, Victor J Stevens 1, Alan Bauck 1, Phillip J Brantley 2, Matthew Hornbrook 1, Gerald J Jerome 2, Valerie H Myers 2, Lawrence Appel 4
1 Kaiser Permanente, Center for Health Research, Portland, OR, USA
2 Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA, USA
3 Towson University, Department of Kinesiology, Towson, MD, USA
4 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA

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© Funk et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Kaiser Permanente, Center for Health Research, Portland, OR, 3800 N. Interstate Ave., Portland, OR 97227, USA; Tel: 503-335-2443; Fax: 503-335-2424; E-mail:



Using the Internet to replicate client/counselor interactions provides a tremendous opportunity to disseminate interventions at relatively low cost per participant. However, there are substantial challenges with this approach. The Weight Loss Maintenance Trial (WLM) compared two long-term weight-maintenance interventions: (1) a personal contact arm and (2) an Internet arm, to a third self-directed control arm. The Internet arm focused on use of an interactive website for support of long-term weight maintenance. This paper describes a highly interactive self-assessment tool developed for use in the WLM trial Internet intervention arm.


The Tailored Self-Assessment (TSA) website tool was an interactive resource for those WLM participants assigned to the Internet arm to review their personal weight-management progress and make choices about future weight-management actions. The TSA was highly tailored and ended with a suggested list of personalized action plans. While the participant could complete the TSA at any time, criteria-based reminder messages prompted participation.


The TSA was one of 27 interactive tools on the WLM website. Over the course of the 28 months, the TSA was completed 800 times by the 348 randomized participants. Fifty-three percent of the participants (185/348) used the TSA at least once (range: 0, 110) and 72% of the 185 participants who did complete the TSA at least once, completed it more than once.


The Internet has great potential to impact health behavior by attempting to replicate personal counseling. We learned that while development is complex and appears costly, tailored strategies based on client feedback are likely worthwhile and should be formally tested.

Keywords: Weight management, Internet, Behavioral intervention, Obesity, Self-assessment.