Basics of Tailoring

What is Tailoring?

“Tailoring” refers to any of a number of methods for creating communications individualized for their receivers, with the expectation that this individualization will lead to larger intended effects of those communications.

How To Tailor
  1. Gather Data on the individual characteristics of each participant using a questionnaire, existing database, medical records, or device (e.g., pedometer)
  2. Write a library of messages for the characteristics you deem most relevant for tailoring. The message library includes algorithms or logic indicating which characteristic of an individual will cause a specific message to be included.
  3. Select relevant messages. A tailoring engine chooses messages from your library based on each person’s data.
  4. Test to make sure the right messages are chosen for each person.
  5. Deliver the messages selected for each user (e.g., in a brochure, on a website, etc.)

Note: Our tailored projects are usually part of larger research projects that involve managing databases, survey management systems (i.e., to track when participants should be contacted), randomization schemes, data analysis, etc. In the interest of time, the Tailoring Workshop will focus mainly on tailored message writing.

What To Tailor On

Research and theory can help you determine what impacts the desired behavior change. Some examples might include motivation, barriers, values, self-efficacy, culture or ethnic identify, and outcome expectations. You can also tailor on data to personalize your information, such as the person’s name, city or state of residence, marital status, job type, and so on. To see some examples, please visit the Center for Health Communications Research website:

Welcome Presentation

Vic Strecher's welcome presentation from our Summer Workshop, August 2008.

Tailoring Theories

Vic Strecher, PhD, MPH

Computer Tailored Persuasion: Effectiveness and Side-Effects

Dr. Arie Djikstra

Survey Talk

Shannon Considine

Tailoring 101

Janine Konkel, MPH

Tailoring 201

Janine Konkel, MPH

Testing Talk, Part I (Tailoring)

Janine Konkel, MPH