Consumers’ intention to use health recommendation systems to receive personalized nutrition advice

BackgroundSophisticated recommendation systems are used more and more in the health sector to assist consumers in healthy decision making. In this study we investigate consumers’ evaluation of hypothetical health recommendation systems that provide personalized nutrition advice. We examine consumers’ intention to use such a health recommendation system as a function of options related to the underlying system (e.g. the type of company that generates the advice) as well as intermediaries (e.g. general practitioner) that might assist in using the system. We further explore if the effect of both the system and intermediaries on intention to use a health recommendation system are mediated by consumers’ perceived effort, privacy risk, usefulness and enjoyment.Methods204 respondents from a consumer panel in the Netherlands participated. The data were collected by means of a questionnaire. Each respondent evaluated three hypothetical health recommendation systems on validated multi-scale measures of effort, privacy risk, usefulness, enjoyment and intention to use the system. To test the hypothesized relationships we used regression analyses.ResultsWe find evidence that the options related to the underlying system as well as the intermediaries involved influence consumers’ intention to use such a health recommendation system and that these effects are mediated by perceptions of effort, privacy risk, usefulness and enjoyment. Also, we find that consumers value usefulness of a system more and enjoyment less when a general practitioner advices them to use a health recommendation system than if they use it out of their own curiosity.ConclusionsWe developed and tested a model of consumers’ intention to use a health recommendation system. We found that intermediaries play an important role in how consumers evaluate such a system over and above options of the underlying system that is used to generate the recommendation. Also, health-related information services seem to rely on endorsement by the medical sector. This has considerable implications for the distribution as well as the communication channels of health recommendation systems which may be quite difficult to put into practice outside traditional health service channels.

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