From theory-inspired to theory-based interventions: A protocol for developing and testing a methodology for linking behaviour change techniques to theoretical mechanisms of action

Susan Michie, Rachel N. Carey, Marie Johnston, Alexander J. Rothman, Marijn De Bruin, Michael P. Kelly, Lauren E. Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Understanding links between behaviour change techniques (BCTs) and mechanisms of action (the processes through which they affect behaviour) helps inform the systematic development of behaviour change interventions. Purpose This research aims to develop and test a methodology for linking BCTs to their mechanisms of action. Methods Study 1 (published explicit links): Hypothesised links between 93 BCTs (from the 93-item BCT taxonomy, BCTTv1) and mechanisms of action will be identified from published interventions and their frequency, explicitness and precision documented. Study 2 (expert-agreed explicit links): Behaviour change experts will identify links between 61 BCTs and 26 mechanisms of action in a formal consensus study. Study 3 (integrated matrix of explicit links): Agreement between studies 1 and 2 will be evaluated and a new group of experts will discuss discrepancies. An integrated matrix of BCT-mechanism of action links, annotated to indicate strength of evidence, will be generated. Study 4 (published implicit links): To determine whether groups of co-occurring BCTs can be linked to theories, we will identify groups of BCTs that are used together from the study 1 literature. A consensus exercise will be used to rate strength of links between groups of BCT and theories. Conclusions A formal methodology for linking BCTs to their hypothesised mechanisms of action can contribute to the development and evaluation of behaviour change interventions. This research is a step towards developing a behaviour change 'ontology', specifying relations between BCTs, mechanisms of action, modes of delivery, populations, settings and types of behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-512
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Volume52
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is funded by UK Medical Research Council grant number MR/L011115/1. We would like to thank the 105 experts in behaviour change who have committed their time and offered their expertise for study 2 of this research. We are also very grateful to all those who sent us peer-reviewed behaviour change intervention descriptions for study 1. Finally, we would like thank Dr. Emma Beard and Dr. Dan Dediu for their statistical input and to all the researchers, particularly Holly Walton, who have assisted in the coding of papers for study 1.

Keywords

  • Behaviour change
  • Behaviour change techniques
  • Expert consensus
  • Mechanism of action
  • Theory

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