What is the Effectiveness of Email-based Exercises in Promoting Psychological Wellbeing & Healthy Lifestyles?


Research Paper Title

The effectiveness of email-based exercises in promoting psychological wellbeing and healthy lifestyle: a two-year follow-up study.

Background

Web-based interventions provide a possibility to enhance well-being in large groups of people. Only a few studies have studied the effectiveness of the interventions and there is no information on the sustainability of the effects. Study aims were to investigate both the short (2-month) and long-term (2-year) effects of email-based training for mental health and lifestyle.

Methods

Persons who completed an ‘Electronic Health Check’, as advertised in a TV programme, were offered a chance to participate in email-based interventions. The baseline questionnaire was completed by 73,054 people, with 42,761 starting interventions, and 16,499 people participating in at least one of the follow-ups. Persons who did not choose to start the interventions served as controls.

Results

At baseline, the intervention group had a higher level of stress and lower gratitude and confidence in the future than the control group. Both groups showed improvement in the level of stress, but improvement was more marked in the intervention group (P < .001 for both time points). In confidence in the future and gratitude, people who chose interpersonal interventions showed significant improvements at both time points (P < .001), whereas those choosing lifestyle interventions showed improvement only at the 2-month follow-up. Participants who had done the exercises according to instructions had the most sustained improvements in measures of psychological health at the 2-year follow-up. As for lifestyle, people who had started lifestyle interventions increased their exercise (P < .001 at both time points).

Conclusions

Internet-based interventions are feasible for mental health promotion and should be available for people interested in improving their psychological well-being and lifestyle.

Reference

Torniainen-Holm, M., Pankakoski, M., Lehto, T., Saarelma, O., Mustonen, P., Joutsenniemi, K. & Suvisaari, J. (2016) The Effectiveness of Email-based Exercises in Promoting Psychological Wellbeing and Healthy Lifestyle: A Two-year Follow-up Study. BMC Psychology. 4(21). DOI: 10.1186/s40359-016-0125-4.

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