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Arnold School of Public Health


Internet Assisted Obesity Treatment Enhanced by Motivational Interviewing


Study Overview

Our earlier study indicated that a group behavioral obesity treatment program delivered totally over the Internet produced clinically significant weight loss among overweight and obese individuals but the average weight losses were lower than those achieved with an in-person version of the same program.  But online programs have the potential to reach a larger number of individuals, particularly those who cannot come into the clinical center for treatment on a weekly basis.  Therefore, the purpose of iReach2 was to determine strategies to enhance the weight loss outcomes of an effective online behavioral weight control program.  The study compared weight losses achieved with the online group program compared with the same program PLUS individual online Motivational Interviewing (MI) sessions.  MI is a counseling style which seeks to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to behavior change.

At two study sites (Arkansas and Vermont) 398 overweight and obese adults were randomized to one of two interventions:  (1) Internet intervention or 2) Internet intervention + MI.  All participants received the same online 6-month, 24-session group-based behavioral weight loss program followed by 12 sessions of weight maintenance over the next year.  The online program focused on dietary and exercise habits and presented behavioral strategies to help initiate healthy habits and sustain them.  Group synchronous chat allowed participants to learn strategies and support one another.  Behavior change was added by online tools such as self-monitoring journals and lessons. Assessments were conducted every six months and included measures of body weight, adherence to treatment, motivational factors, website utilization, and treatment delivery cost.


National Institutes of Health (NIDDK) (RO1 DK056746-09A1;  2010 to 2015)

Research Team

Dual PIs:
Delia West PhD - UofSC, Department of Exercise Science
Jean Harvey, PhD - University of Vermont, Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences

Current Status

Publications from this study include the following:

Krukowski RA, DiLillo V, Ingle K, Harvey J, West D. Design and methods of a synchronous online motivational interviewing intervention for weight management. Journal Medical Internet Research 2016; 5(2):e69.

West DS, Harvey J, Krukowski RA, Prewitt TE, Priest J, Ashikaga T. Do individual online motivational interviewing chat sessions enhance weight loss in a group online weight control program? Obesity 2016; 24:2334-2340.

Krukowski RA, West DS, Priest J, Ashikaga T, Naud S, Harvey JR. The Impact of the Interventionist-Participant Relationship on Treatment Adherence and Weight Loss. Translational Behavioral Medicine 2018; 9(2):368-372.

Mench E, West DS, Krukowski RA, Harvey J. Weight loss success of participants residing in rural and urban areas.  Journal of Rural Health 2018; 34:395-400.

Harvey J, Krukowski RA, Priest J, West D. Log Often, Lose More: Electronic Dietary Self-Monitoring for Weight Loss. Obesity 2019; 27:380-384.




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