A self-report measure of engagement with digital behavior change interventions (DBCIs): development and psychometric evaluation of the "DBCI Engagement Scale".

O Perski, Ann Blandford, C Garnett, D Crane, R West, S Michie
in Transl Behav Med, Journal article


Engagement with digital behavior change interventions (DBCIs) is a potentially important mediator of effectiveness; however, we lack validated measures of engagement. This study describes (a) the development of a self-report scale that captures the purported behavioral and experiential facets of engagement and (b) the evaluation of its validity in a real-world setting. A deductive approach to item generation was taken. The sample consisted of adults in the UK who drink excessively, downloaded the freely available Drink Less app with the intention to reduce alcohol consumption, and completed the scale immediately after their first login. Five types of validity (i.e., construct, criterion, predictive, incremental, divergent) were examined using exploratory factor analysis, correlational analyses, and through regressing the number of subsequent logins in the next 14 days onto total scale scores. Cronbach's α was calculated to assess internal reliability. A 10-item scale assessing amount and depth of use, interest, enjoyment, and attention was generated. Of 5,460 eligible users, only 203 (3.7%) users completed the scale. Seven items were retained, and the scale was found to be unifactorial and internally reliable (α = 0.77). Divergent and criterion validity were not established. Total scale scores were not significantly associated with the number of subsequent logins (B = 0.02; 95% CI = -0.01 to 0.05; p = .14). Behavioral and experiential indicators of engagement with DBCIs may constitute a single dimension, but low response rates to engagement surveys embedded in DBCIs may make their use impracticable in real-world settings.