“Don’t worry, be a health behaviour changer”: Theory and practice of changing psychosocial determinants of health behaviour

“Don’t worry, be a health behaviour changer”:  Theory and practice of changing psychosocial determinants of health behaviour

Progress in addressing today’s major health problems requires changes in behaviour. Population health can be improved by changing and maintaining health behaviour in those who are at risk from ill health and in those with chronic or acute illness. The field of Health Psychology is dedicated to the scientific study of health-compromising and health-enhancing behaviours and provides health researchers with theories of behaviour change that identify psychosocial determinants of change.


Current reporting of individual-level behaviour change interventions across disciplines, however, rarely include formal documentation regarding theoretical background and intervention content (i.e., behaviour change techniques).
A behaviour change technique refers to an “observable, replicable, and irreducible component of an intervention designed to alter or redirect causal processes that regulate behaviour” (e.g., self-monitoring; Michie et al., 2013, p. 1).

The current reporting practice limits replicability and contribution to theory and intervention practice. With the taxonomy of behaviour change techniques, Michie and colleagues (2011) offer health researchers a comprehensive and accessible list of 40 behaviour change techniques to describe the content of behaviour change interventions, improving replication, implementation and evidence syntheses.

By popular demand here are links to my slide decks from March 11th's Journal Club at CHHM.

Learn about content coding, better reporting on behavioural interventions, theories of behaviour change, and the psychology behind habit formation. You can also download a summary of the 40-item behaviour change taxonomies by Michie et. al. (2011).