Challenges and future directions for tailored communication research

David B. Abrams, Sherry Mills, David Bulger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As informatics technology advances, a growing number of research trials on tailored communications provide an accumulation of promising evidence to support their efficacy. These trials also reveal gaps and opportunities for future research. The scope and boundaries of tailoring must be redefined in terms of both new technology and the trade-offs between complexity, demand burden on participants, and the minimal information required for effective and efficient tailoring. Basic and methods research is needed to broaden theory, develop a common language, standardize measures, and isolate the key mediating mechanisms that facilitate tailored communications. Applied research must consider more rigorous research designs for efficacy trials and conduct more effectiveness trials to investigate the mechanisms of technology transfer to enhance large-scale diffusion of tailored communications. The role of contextual variables needs to be examined, as well as their interaction with different population groups, and also the channels, modes, and methods of tailored message delivery. Research is also needed on the feasibility of tailoring across clusters of multiple risk factors to identify the commonalities, differences, and interrelations among diverse behaviors. The potential cost-effectiveness of tailored communications must also be examined. No matter how efficacious, tailored communications delivered to large populations (i.e. mass-customization) will not make a public health impact unless proven to be practical and cost-efficient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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