What is it about?

We often ask people to come up with a plan to change their behaviour, but do they work well for everyone? We tested two different kinds of action plans to improve snacking habits. We found that planning tools that had clear instructions, simple text, and images worked better for people with low health literacy than typical planning tools. We also tried out different ways of allocating the planning tools (random, tailoring to health literacy level or letting people choose), but didn't find that this made any difference to snacking habits.

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Why is it important?

We know from research that planning is an important strategy for changing health behaviours. Typically we might ask people to come up with 'SMART' goals. We often don't give a lot of guidance to help people think about what barriers they face and what they could do to overcome those barriers. The health literacy planning tool helped guide people through the process so that they came up with a more effective plan than if they were asked to do this on their own.


This study was really exciting for me! There's not much research about how we can make behaviour change tools easy for people to use, including for people with low health literacy who have more difficulty understanding health information.

Julie Ayre

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Effects of health literacy, screening, and participant choice on action plans for reducing unhealthy snacking in Australia: A randomised controlled trial, PLoS Medicine, November 2020, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003409.
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