What is DIG?
The Digital Interventions Group (DIG) develops, evaluates and implements interventions that support all varieties of positive behaviour and behaviour change.
Much of our work is focused on helping members of the community, patients and healthcare professionals manage or prevent health problems. We have pioneered the ‘Person-Based Approach’ to developing, adapting and optimising interventions (see www.personbasedapproach.org). This approach is now used worldwide to create interventions that are as accessible and engaging as possible for all members of the community.
Digital Innovation, Engagement and Accessibility
- We have pioneered the Person Based Approach to developing, adapting and optimising digital interventions that are to be as effective and engaging as possible for all members of the community.
- We draw on expertise from diverse places including psychology, computer science and medicine to develop co-production methods that ensure all voices are heard.
- We develop new tools and technologies (such as Lifeguide+) that allow us to more efficiently develop and test engaging and acceptable interventions.
- We collaborate with multidisciplinary teams to ensure behavioural aspects of interventions are as engaging as possible.
- We work to understand who digital interventions work for, who they don’t work for, and what we can do to make them as accessible as possible for everyone.
- Our evaluation methods range from in depth qualitative interviews, targeted experimental studies, large clinical RCTs and cutting edge quantitative analysis of digital metrics.
Implementation and Enterprise
- Our approach ensures interventions remain acceptable and engaging, but also using cutting edge and scientifically rigorous approaches.
- We develop cost-effective and scalable interventions and work with commercial and public health teams to implement them with as wide reach as possible.
Explore Our Success Stories
The Positive Online Weight Reduction (POWeR) app is being rolled out nationally to help people with obesity and diabetes.
Members of DIG developed ‘POWeR’ (Positive Online Weight Reduction) to help obese primary care patients sustain weight loss. A randomised controlled trial (published in the Lancet: Diabetes and Endocrinology) showed that POWeR helped users lose enough weight to significantly reduce their risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and cost less than standard NHS care. An app version of POWeR was then developed in partnership with the company, ‘Changing Health’. NHS England has adopted the POWeR app as the weight management element of the National Diabetes Education Programme, which will be rolled out to 600,000 diabetic patients from 2020-2025.
‘Germ Defence’ is the only online intervention worldwide proven to help reduce the spread of infection in the home
‘Germ Defence’ was a website developed by DIG members to support behaviours to reduce the spread of infections at home. A randomised controlled trial in 20,000 people (published in the Lancet) showed that using Germ Defence reduced illness in users and their families. A revised version of Germ Defence was launched at the start of the pandemic and updated throughout the pandemic based on stakeholder and PPI input and emerging scientific evidence and guidance. Germ Defence was disseminated through national public health and primary care networks and national media and translated into 25+ international languages, resulting in over 600,000 users.
‘Balance Retraining’ is an online intervention now available worldwide to help adults with long-term dizziness.
Balance Retraining was developed as a PhD project and trialled by members of DIG between 2013 and 2016. A randomised controlled trial (published in the Annals of Family Medicine) showed that using Balance Retraining helped reduced dizziness and dizziness-related disability amongst UK adults aged 50+. Balance Retraining was made publically available and the English language version has since been used by more than 9000 people. Balance Retraining has subsequently been translated into Dutch, with a further randomised controlled trial amongst primary care patients in the Netherlands further demonstrating its effectiveness for reducing dizziness (published in the BMJ).
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome App with NICE and FDA approval for patient use
The ACTIB randomised controlled trial, published in GUT, Lancet Hepatology and Gastroenterology and BMC Gastroenterology, showed that a web-based CBT for IBS self-management programme considerably improves patients symptoms with long lasting effects and is cost effective. A self-guided CBT for IBS App was developed with a company ‘Mahana Therapeutics’ and made available on the App Store and Google Play in December 2023. It has NICE approval for Evaluation in Practice in the UK and is being used in NHS IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapy) services and Gastroenterology clinics. In the USA, it has FDA approval as the first prescription-only digital therapeutic for patients with IBS symptoms.
Who We Are
We bring together behavioural scientists, computer scientists, clinical academics and health services researchers and are currently expanding the group to embrace a wider range of disciplines and interventions.
Over the past 15 years the work of our large interdisciplinary research group has been funded by over £100 million of external grants and has developed interventions that have been rolled out nationally and internationally, working with public and private sector partners.
Examples include our weight management intervention which is part of the NHS Diabetes Education and Prevention programmes and the Germ Defence intervention to prevent infection transmission in the home, which had over 600,000 users during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Based in the University of Southampton, our members’ research and education expertise spans Psychology, Health Sciences, Medicine and Computer Science.