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Int J Med Inform. 2008 Nov;77(11):715-22. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2008.03.001. Epub 2008 Apr 15.

Computer-generated tailored feedback letters for smoking cessation: theoretical and empirical variability of tailoring.

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University Leipzig, Coordination Center for Clinical Trials Leipzig KKSL, Härtelstr. Leipzig, Germany.



This study examines tailored feedback letters of a smoking cessation intervention that is conceptually based on the transtheoretical model, from a content-based perspective.


Data of 2 population-based intervention studies, both randomized controlled trials, with total N=1044 were used. The procedure of the intervention, the tailoring principle for the feedback letters, and the content of the intervention materials are described in detail. Theoretical and empirical frequencies of unique feedback letters are presented.


The intervention system was able to generate a total of 1040 unique letters with normative feedback only, and almost half a million unique letters with normative and ipsative feedback. Almost every single smoker in contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance had an empirically unique combination of tailoring variables and received a unique letter. In contrast, many smokers in precontemplation shared a combination of tailoring variables and received identical letters.


The transtheoretical model provides an enormous theoretical and empirical variability of tailoring. However, tailoring for a major subgroup of smokers, i.e. those who do not intend to quit, needs improvement. Conceptual ideas for additional tailoring variables are discussed.

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