Do automated digital health behaviour change interventions have a positive effect on self-efficacy? A systematic review and meta-analysis

Katie Newby, Grace Teah, Richard Cooke, Xinru Li, Katherine Brown, Bradley Salisbury-Finch, Kayleigh Kwah, Naomi Bartle, Kristina Curtis, Emily Fulton, Joanne Parsons, Elise Dusseldorp, Stefanie Williams

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
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    Self-efficacy is an important determinant of health behaviour. Digital interventions are a potentially acceptable and cost-effective way of delivering programmes of health behaviour change at scale. Whether behaviour change interventions work to increase self-efficacy in this context is unknown. This systematic review and meta-analysis sought to identify whether automated digital interventions are associated with positive changes in self-efficacy amongst non-clinical populations for five major health behaviours, and which BCTs are associated with that change. A systematic literature search identified 20 studies (n = 5624) that assessed changes in self-efficacy and were included in a random-effects meta-analysis. Interventions targeted: healthy eating (k = 4), physical activity (k = 9), sexual behaviour (k = 3) and smoking (k = 4). No interventions targeting alcohol use were identified. Overall, interventions had a small, positive effect on self-efficacy (Formula presented.). The effect of interventions on self-efficacy did not differ as a function of health behaviour type (Q-between = 7.3704, p =.061, df = 3). Inclusion of the BCT ‘information about social and environmental consequences’ had a small, negative effect on self-efficacy (Formula presented.). Whilst this review indicates that digital interventions can be used to change self-efficacy, which techniques work best in this context is not clear.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)140-158
    Number of pages19
    JournalHealth Psychology Review
    Issue number1
    Early online date20 Jan 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Health Psychology Review on 20/01/2020, available online:

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    Coventry University Early Career Researcher Pump Priming Award.


    • Self-efficacy
    • digital
    • health behaviour
    • behaviour change techniques


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