Understanding tailoring in communicating about health

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Abstract

‘Tailoring’ refers to any of a number of methods for creating communications individualized for their receivers, with the expectation that this individualization will lead to larger intended effects of these communications. Results so far have been generally positive but not consistently so, and this paper seeks to explicate tailoring to help focus future research. Tailoring involves either or both of two classes of goals (enhancing cognitive preconditions for message processing and enhancing message impact through modifying behavioral determinants of goal outcomes) and employs strategies of personalization, feedback and content matching. These goals and strategies intersect in a 2 × 3 matrix in which some strategies and their component tactics match better to some goals than to others. The paper illustrates how this framework can be systematically applied in generating research questions and identifying appropriate study designs for tailoring research.

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