Users' intrinsic goals linked to alcohol dependence risk level and engagement with a health promotion website (Hello Sunday Morning): Observational study

Emma L. Bradshaw, Baljinder K. Sahdra, Rafael A. Calvo, Alex Mrvaljevich, Richard M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Hello Sunday Morning (HSM) is a self-guided health promotion website with the aim to improve drinking culture. Members are encouraged to sign up for a 3-month period of alcohol abstention and record and track their progress and goals. Objective: This study used self-determination theory (SDT) to examine the nature of goals subscribed by HSM users to test the extent to which intrinsic goal pursuit was linked to lower alcohol dependency risk and higher engagement with the HSM website. Methods: HSM users (N=2216; 59.75%, 1324/2216, females; aged 18-79 years) completed the World Health Organization's Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (WHO-AUDIT, which measures alcohol dependence risk level) at sign-up and at 4 and 6 months after sign-up. In addition, the website had a goals-subscription feature that allowed participants to share their goals. Two independent raters classified the goals according to a coding system we devised based on SDT, which proposes that intrinsic goals (eg, growth, relationships, community, and health) better promote positive outcomes than extrinsic goals (eg, wealth, fame, and image). Results: Although there was substantial (1016/2216, 45.84%) attrition of HSM users from sign-up to 6 months, the attrition rate could not be attributed to alcohol dependency risk because people in different WHO-AUDIT risk zones were equally likely to be missing at 4 and 6 months after sign-up. The SDT-driven coding of goals yielded the following categories: wealth and image (extrinsic goals); relationships, personal growth, community engagement, and physical health (intrinsic goals); and alcohol use-related goals (which were hard to classify as either extrinsic or intrinsic). Alcohol dependence risk level correlated positively with goals related to money (r=.16), personal growth (r=.17), relationships (r=.10), and alcohol use (r=.25). Website engagement correlated negatively with alcohol dependence risk level (r=.10) and positively with relationship (r=.10) and community goals (r=.12). Conclusions: HSM users with higher alcohol dependence risk tended to engage with the website less, but to the extent that they did, they tended to subscribe to goals related to alcohol use and improving their personal growth, relationships, and finances. In line with SDT, engagement with goals-particularly the intrinsic goals of connecting with close-others and the broader community-related to increased website engagement. Web-based tools intended to promote healthy behaviors in users may be effective in engaging their users if the users' experience on the website supports the pursuit of intrinsic goals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10022
JournalJMIR Mental Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Emma L Bradshaw, Baljinder K Sahdra, Rafael A Calvo, Alex Mrvaljevich, Richard M Ryan.


  • Alcohol dependence
  • Aspirations
  • Goals
  • Self-determination theory
  • Website engagement


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