Author Faculty (Discipline)


Document Type


Publication Date



Journal of Medical Internet Research

Volume Number


Issue Number


Page Numbers




Embargo Period



111712 Health Promotion| 111714 Mental Health

Avondale Research Centre

Christian Education Research Centre

Avondale Research Centre

Lifestyle and Health Research Centre

Reportable Items (HERDC/ERA)



Background: The escalating prevalence of mental health disorders necessitates a greater focus on web- and mobile app–based mental health promotion initiatives for nonclinical groups. However, knowledge is scant regarding the influence of human support on attrition and adherence and participant preferences for support in nonclinical settings.

Objective: This study aimed to compare the influence of 3 modes of human support on attrition and adherence to a digital mental health intervention for a nonclinical cohort. It evaluated user preferences for support and assessed whether adherence and outcomes were enhanced when participants received their preferred support mode.

Methods: Subjects participated in a 10-week digital mental health promotion intervention and were randomized into 3 comparative groups: standard group with automated emails (S), standard plus personalized SMS (S+pSMS), and standard plus weekly videoconferencing support (S+VCS). Adherence was measured by the number of video lessons viewed, points achieved for weekly experiential challenge activities, and the total number of weeks that participants recorded a score for challenges. In the postquestionnaire, participants ranked their preferred human support mode from 1 to 4 (S, S+pSMS, S+VCS, S+pSMS & VCS combined). Stratified analysis was conducted for those who received their first preference. Preintervention and postintervention questionnaires assessed well-being measures (ie, mental health, vitality, depression, anxiety, stress, life satisfaction, and flourishing).

Results: Interested individuals (N=605) enrolled on a website and were randomized into 3 groups (S, n=201; S+pSMS, n=202; S+VCS, n=201). Prior to completing the prequestionnaire, a total of 24.3% (147/605) dropped out. Dropout attrition between groups was significantly different (P=.009): 21.9% (44/201) withdrew from the S group, 19.3% (39/202) from the S+pSMS group, and 31.6% (64/202) from the S+VCS group. The remaining 75.7% (458/605) registered and completed the prequestionnaire (S, n=157; S+pSMS, n=163; S+VCS, n=138). Of the registered participants, 30.1% (138/458) failed to complete the postquestionnaire (S, n=54; S+pSMS, n=49; S+VCS, n=35), but there were no between-group differences (P=.24). For the 69.9% (320/458; S, n=103; S+pSMS, n=114; S+VCS, n=103) who completed the postquestionnaire, no between-group differences in adherence were observed for mean number of videos watched (P=.42); mean challenge scores recorded (P=.71); or the number of weeks that challenge scores were logged (P=.66). A total of 56 participants (17.5%, 56/320) received their first preference in human support (S, n=22; S+pSMS, n=26; S+VCS, n=8). No differences were observed between those who received their first preference and those who did not with regard to video adherence (P=.91); challenge score adherence (P=.27); or any of the well-being measures including, mental health (P=.86), vitality (P=.98), depression (P=.09), anxiety (P=.64), stress (P=.55), life satisfaction (P=.50), and flourishing (P=.47).

Conclusions: Early dropout attrition may have been influenced by dissatisfaction with the allocated support mode. Human support mode did not impact adherence to the intervention, and receiving the preferred support style did not result in greater adherence or better outcomes.

Trial Registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR): 12619001009101;

Link to publisher version (DOI)

Peer Review

Before publication


Used by permission: the author(s).

© Melanie Elise Renfrew, Darren Peter Morton, Jason Kyle Morton, Jason Scott Hinze, Geraldine Przybylko, Bevan Adrian Craig. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 29.09.2020.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.