Reminders make people adhere better to a self-help sleep intervention

Corine Horsch, Sandor Spruit, Jaap Lancee, Rogier van Eijk, Robert-Jan Beun, Mark Neerincx, Willem-Paul Brinkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


The experiment presented in this paper investigated the effects of different kinds of reminders on adherence to automated parts of a cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) delivered via a mobile device. Previous studies report that computerized health interventions can be effective. However, treatment adherence is still an issue. Reminders are a simple technique that could improve adherence. A minimal intervention prototype in the realm of sleep treatment was developed to test the effects of reminders on adherence. Two prominent ways to determine the reminder-time are: a) ask users when they want to be reminded, and b) let an algorithm decide when to remind users. The prototype consisted of a sleep diary, a relaxation exercise and reminders. A within subject design was used in which the effect of reminders and two underlying principles were tested by 45 participants that all received the following three different conditions (in random order): a) event-based reminders b) time-based reminders c) no reminders. Both types of reminders improved adherence compared to no reminders. No differences were found between the two types of reminders. Opportunity and self-empowerment could partly mediate adherence to filling out the sleep diary, but not to the number of relaxation exercises conducted. Although the study focussed on CBT-I, we expect that designers of other computerized health interventions benefit from the tested opportunity and self-empowerment principles for reminders to improve adherence, as well.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-188
Number of pages16
JournalHealth and Technology
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Adherence
  • Reminders
  • Sleep
  • Self-help
  • Compliance
  • Insomnia


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