Randomised trial of an online consumer engagement tool for CVD risk assessment and decision making

Years funded:
2019 - 2020

The project will develop a new consumer website about cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention, including a risk calculator that creates a personalised decision aid. This will explain the concept of ‘heart age’ and show how different lifestyle and medication options can reduce the chance of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 5 years. Different versions of the website will be tested to see which one meet the needs of the 60% of Australians with low health literacy, who find it hard to access, understand and act on reliable health information. People with low health literacy are more likely to develop CVD, and may prefer different formats for health information, so it's important to tailor the website to suit different people. Currently, almost 80% of Australians get health information online, but less than 1% of health websites are easy to understand and act on.

We have already developed an online version of CVD prevention guidelines for GPs linked to patient communication tools, including an interactive graph for risk communication and a decision aid for lifestyle and medication options to reduce risk (https://auscvdrisk.com.au). This project will develop a consumer version of the website, including design changes that we know work better for people with low health literacy, such as more images, less medical jargon, and structured guidance for reducing risk.

We will test different versions of the website in a diverse online community sample with varying levels of health literacy, using a randomised trial design to compare: 1) understanding of risk and management options, and 2) behaviour changes after 1 month and 3 months (reducing lifestyle risk factors and seeing a GP for clinical risk assessment). This will compare health-literate design to standard information, and explore whether 'heart age' is a useful addition to 5 year CVD risk. 

The most effective website formats will be linked to the existing GP website and relevant Heart Foundation programs.

Researcher Profile

Dr Carissa Bonner

Institute: University of Sydney
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