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The LifeGuide Research Programme

The LifeGuide research programme is a multidisciplinary initiative led by Professor Lucy Yardley (Psychology), Dr Mark Weal (Computer Science) and Dr Leanne Morrison (Psychology and Primary Care) at the University of Southampton.

We developed a unique set of open source software tools, the ‘LifeGuide’, that allowed intervention designers with no experience of programming to create interactive web-based interventions to support healthy behaviour.

Using this software platform, we have been developing and successfully trialling numerous interventions for PC, tablet and smart phone, including public health interventions (e.g. for weight management, physical activity support, hand hygiene, smoking cessation) and illness management interventions (e.g. for hypertension, diabetes, cancer, cognitive impairment in older people, back pain, dizziness, fatigue, mental health, stroke, respiratory conditions, eczema and irritable bowel).

The Person-Based Approach to intervention development

Through developing and evaluating over 30 digital health interventions for patients and healthcare professionals, our team has developed a unique ‘Person-Based Approach’ (PBA) for creating interventions that are accessible, engaging and cost-effective. Our systematic and efficient approach is based on the accumulated expertise from: over 1500 in-depth interviews with users; detailed quantitative usage analyses; multiple large-scale clinical trials; public and private sector real world implementation.

The PBA uniquely combines user-centred design methods with evidence-based behaviour change methods. The PBA has been used successfully to develop and adapt interventions that are engaging and effective for members of the public, patients and health professionals, for people from diverse cultures internationally and people of all ages and abilities.

Click 'Find out more' for information about the Person-Based Approach to developing interventions.

With regret, due to the legal complexities of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), we can no longer support new external users of LifeGuide. It is simply not possible for us to accommodate new users as we do not have enough capacity to undertake the extensive contracting procedures that universities now require. We will continue to support existing external users who have already contacted us about their project, and will arrange a contract between our institutions.

Existing LifeGuide users who have been in touch with us about their project: click here for information and advice about creating an online intervention.

Our research programme

  • Since LifeGuide commenced in 2008, research collaborations with our team to develop and trial web-based interventions using LifeGuide, following a person-based approach have attracted funding of well over £40 million (from MRC, EPSRC, ESRC, NIHR, EC and medical charities) and we have secured funding to continue supporting the LifeGuide programme until 2022.
  • Our first intervention to be fully trialled (INTRO) substantially reduced antibiotic prescribing in six European countries and was published in the Lancet.
  • Our second intervention (PRIMIT), developed to combat the spread of infection in the next influenza pandemic, was successfully trialled in 20,000 people, and was also published in the Lancet.
  • We have now published well over 50 tutorial papers, development papers and reports of feasibility and full trials based on the LifeGuide and person-based approach research programme; numerous further papers will be forthcoming as our ongoing development work and trialling is completed.

Our dissemination activities

  • Our interventions are now being disseminated in the UK and internationally through the NHS, public health teams and education websites for health professionals.
  • The LifeGuide Community website now has over 3000 members worldwide, and numerous researchers (including postgraduate students) in the UK and internationally have independently created interventions.
  • Our web-based ‘LifeGuide Community’ resources have supported intervention designers for a decade by providing the software for free download, together with wikis, demos and guidance on intervention development.
  • Moving on from LifeGuide, we have now documented our unique and successful person-based approach to intervention development. You can find out more about this approach by clicking the ‘find out more’ link above.