Using Google Analytics as a Process Evaluation Method for Internet-delivered Interventions: a Commendable Example on Sexual Health

Rik Crutzen* Rik Crutzen*, Maastricht University/CAPHRI, Maastricht, Netherlands

Track: Practice
Presentation Topic: Public (e-)health, population health technologies, surveillance
Presentation Type: Oral presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Building: LKSC Conference Center Stanford
Room: Paul Berg Auditorium
Date: 2011-09-17 04:30 PM – 06:00 PM
Last modified: 2011-08-15

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Process evaluation aims to disentangle the factors that ensure successful intervention outcomes and attempts to document the steps involved in achieving successful implementation of an intervention. Integrating both qualitative and quantitative methods during process evaluation yields rich detail about intervention outcomes that neither method could achieve alone. This study focuses on a quantitative method that can be used during process evaluation of Internet-delivered interventions: assessment of visitors’ behavior using Google Analytics – a sophisticated and free service. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the potential of Google Analytics as a process evaluation method for Internet-delivered interventions, using Sense as an example. Sense ( is developed by STI AIDS Netherlands and aims to provide reliable information – for adolescents and young adults – about sexuality, but also being in love, relationships, love and issues that come with this.
Google Analytics was implemented during the development process of Sense. This provided the opportunity to track visitors’ behavior as of the intervention’s release. This study reports the data until 21 months after the release (March 2009 – December 2010).
In total, there were 850,895 visitors with an average total visiting time (i.e., dose) of 5:07 minutes. Google Analytics provides data to answer three key questions in terms of process evaluation of an Internet-delivered intervention: (1) How do visitors behave?; (2) Where do visitors come from?; and (3) What content are visitors exposed to? These data can be used to adapt the intervention to visitors’ needs and therewith increase exposure to the intervention and probability of positive intervention outcomes. To achieve this, additional data need to be obtained through other process evaluation methods (e.g., structured observations, in-depth interviews).
This real-life example demonstrates the potential of Google Analytics as a process evaluation method to be used in a process evaluation procedure of Internet-delivered interventions. This is highly relevant given the current expansion of these interventions within the field of health promotion. Two additional questions will be addressed in the presentation to take advantage of Google Analytics' potential: (1) How to combine Google Analytics with other services to result in powerful visitor engagement and interaction research? (2) When should Google Analytics be used to lead or supplement research? The take home messages from the presentation will be distributed through a one-page information sheet.

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