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J Med Internet Res. 2018 Jan 11;20(1):e9. doi: 10.2196/jmir.8814.

Turning Good Intentions Into Actions by Using the Health Action Process Approach to Predict Adherence to Internet-Based Depression Prevention: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial.

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Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany.
Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany.
University Koblenz-Landau, Landau, Germany.
SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warszawa, Poland.



Many individuals engaging in Internet-based interventions fail to complete these treatments as intended. The processes responsible for treatment adherence in Internet-based interventions are still poorly understood.


The aim of this study was to investigate to what extent adherence in an Internet-based intervention can be predicted by motivational and volitional factors outlined in the health action process approach (HAPA).


This study investigated motivational and volitional factors included in HAPA in a randomized controlled trial to predict treatment adherence of N=101 individuals with subclinical depression in the intervention group of a depression prevention intervention (GET.ON Mood Enhancer). Adherence was operationalized as the number of completed treatment modules. Using longitudinal structural equation modeling, HAPA variables (motivational, maintenance, and recovery self-efficacy, outcome expectancies, intention, and planning) were assessed at baseline and their associations with adherence 7 weeks later.


Planning predicted adherence. Better planning was, in turn, associated with higher levels of maintenance self-efficacy, and the latter significantly affected treatment adherence via planning. The other hypothesized direct associations were not significant. In total, the HAPA variables accounted for 14% of variance in treatment adherence.


Planning emerged as the strongest predictor of treatment adherence in highly motivated participants in an Internet-based intervention out of all HAPA variables investigated. Findings are in line with the hypothesis that planning facilitates the translation of good intentions into actions. The findings imply that systematically fostering planning skills and maintenance self-efficacy prior to or during Internet-based interventions would help participants to successfully complete these treatments.


German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00005973; navigationId=trial.HTML&TRIAL_ID=DRKS00005973 (Archived by WebCite at


Internet intervention; adherence; depression prevention; health action process approach

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