E-Coaching Systems: What They Are, and What They Aren't

Bart A. Kamphorst

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The ongoing digitalization and automation of coaching practices is rapidly changing the landscape of coaching and (health-related) self-improvement. The introduction of a new class of support technologies---"e-coaching systems"---promises to deliver highly personalized, timely, around-the-clock coaching in a wide variety of domains and to a broad audience. At the same time, the introduction of these systems raises a number of practical and ethical concerns regarding, for example, privacy and personal autonomy, that deserve careful consideration. Unfortunately, constructive conversations about these technologies are hindered by the lack of a precise understanding of what constitutes an e-coaching system and how e-coaching systems differ from other types of behavior change interventions. The broad and inclusive definitions that have been offered in the recent literature facilitate a systematic underestimation of the impact that the introduction of e-coaching systems will have, by allowing discussions to include examples of systems with which people are familiar but which lack the level of sophistication and independence needed for a genuine process of coaching. As a consequence, specific concerns that arise with sophisticated, adaptive systems that form their own perspective on a user's health and behavior and from that perspective shape persuasive interactions, remain out of focus. This paper aims to remedy this situation by proposing a more narrowly construed definition of e-coaching systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 625-632
Number of pages8
JournalPersonal and Ubiquitous Computing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2017


Research for this article was supported by grant #12013 from the Technology Foundation STW’s “Healthy Lifestyle Solutions” Partnership programme, which is jointly funded by the Netherlands Initiative on Brain and Cognition (NWO) and Philips Research.

FundersFunder number
Netherlands Initiative on Brain and Cognition
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek
Stichting voor de Technische Wetenschappen


    • Behavior Change Support
    • Definition
    • E-Coaching Systems
    • Ethics
    • Policy-Making


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