Development of an online tool for linking behavior change techniques and mechanisms of action based on triangulation of findings from literature synthesis and expert consensus

Marie Johnston, Rachel N. Carey, Lauren E. Connell Bohlen, Derek W. Johnston, Alexander J. Rothman, Marijn de Bruin, Michael P. Kelly, Hilary Groarke, Susan Michie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Researchers, practitioners, and policymakers develop interventions to change behavior based on their understanding of how behavior change techniques (BCTs) impact the determinants of behavior. A transparent, systematic, and accessible method of linking BCTs with the processes through which they change behavior (i.e., their mechanisms of action [MoAs]) would advance the understanding of intervention effects and improve theory and intervention development. The purpose of this study is to triangulate evidence for hypothesized BCT-MoA links obtained in two previous studies and present the results in an interactive, online tool. Two previous studies generated evidence on links between 56 BCTs and 26 MoAs based on their frequency in literature synthesis and on expert consensus. Concordance between the findings of the two studies was examined using multilevel modeling. Uncertainties and differences between the two studies were reconciled by 16 behavior change experts using consensus development methods. The resulting evidence was used to generate an online tool. The two studies showed concordance for 25 of the 26 MoAs and agreement for 37 links and for 460 "nonlinks." A further 55 links were resolved by consensus (total of 92 [37 + 55] hypothesized BCT-MoA links). Full data on 1,456 possible links was incorporated into the online interactive Theory and Technique Tool (https://theoryandtechniquetool.humanbehaviourchange.org/). This triangulation of two distinct sources of evidence provides guidance on how BCTs may affect the mechanisms that change behavior and is available as a resource for behavior change intervention designers, researchers and theorists, supporting intervention design, research synthesis, and collaborative research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1049-1065
Number of pages17
JournalTranslational behavioral medicine
Volume11
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 25 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

Keywords

  • Behavior change technique
  • Expert consensus
  • Literature synthesis
  • Mechanism of action
  • Online tool
  • Triangulation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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