WhatsApp Peer Coaching Lessons for eHealth

WhatsApp Peer Coaching Lessons for eHealth

Luuk Simons, Wouter A. C. van den Heuvel, Catholijn M. Jonker
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1371-2.ch002
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WhatsApp was evaluated as a peer coach group support tool in a healthy lifestyle intervention with 15 young professionals. These individuals were time-constrained professionals, so two design challenges were to create enough attractiveness and quality in the peer group interactions. There were three main health domains: food, physical activity, and mental energy. As a result of the 12 week pilot, there were 127 WhatsApp peer coaching inputs. The variety of inputs was better than in a previous pilot; peer coaching quality improved; plus there was more continuity following the initial two weeks. Community building remained a challenge, especially in the longer run. Two design solutions seemed to work: pre-designed coach-inputs across health domains, plus the instructions for a health advocate from the group, per health domain. Based on the results, the authors hypothesize that user needs in the first five weeks were well supported but that user support needs seemed to change after the initial five weeks, which impacted the perceived added value from the WhatsApp group.
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Previously (Simons 2018, 2019, 2019b), we started researching the added value of social and affective group support in health interventions. In many models, like the HAPA (Health Action Process Approach) model (Schwarzer, 2008; Lippke, 2009; Wiedeman, 2011) and i-change model (De Vries, 1998), as well as in the design of eHealth solutions (Simons 2010), health behaviour improvements appear to revolve around setting goals and achieving them. But patient groups (Simons 2016, 2017, 2019b) and professionals (Simons 2012, 2013, 2017b) appeared to have other support motivators as well, which are less functional in nature. One can think of social motivators (like connecting with each other, sharing experiences or showing your best) and affective motivators (like pride, having fun, encouragement or compliments), as also seen in various social media contexts (Khan, 2017; Bitter, 2014; McQuail, 2010; Park, 2009)

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