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Behavior Change Techniques and Their Mechanisms of Action: A Synthesis of Links Described in Published Intervention Literature

Carey, RN; Connell, LE; Johnston, M; Rothman, AJ; de Bruin, M; Kelly, MP; Michie, S; (2018) Behavior Change Techniques and Their Mechanisms of Action: A Synthesis of Links Described in Published Intervention Literature. Annals of Behavioral Medicine , Article kay078. 10.1093/abm/kay078. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Despite advances in behavioral science, there is no widely shared understanding of the "mechanisms of action" (MoAs) through which individual behavior change techniques (BCTs) have their effects. Cumulative progress in the development, evaluation, and synthesis of behavioral interventions could be improved by identifying the MoAs through which BCTs are believed to bring about change. Purpose: This study aimed to identify the links between BCTs and MoAs described by authors of a corpus of published literature. Methods: Hypothesized links between BCTs and MoAs were extracted by two coders from 277 behavior change intervention articles. Binomial tests were conducted to provide an indication of the relative frequency of each link. Results: Of 77 BCTs coded, 70 were linked to at least one MoA. Of 26 MoAs, all but one were linked to at least one BCT. We identified 2,636 BCT-MoA links in total (mean number of links per article = 9.56, SD = 13.80). The most frequently linked MoAs were "Beliefs about Capabilities" and "Intention." Binomial test results identified up to five MoAs linked to each of the BCTs (M = 1.71, range: 1-5) and up to eight BCTs for each of the MoAs (M = 3.63, range: 1-8). Conclusions: The BCT-MoA links described by intervention authors and identified in this extensive review present intervention developers and reviewers with a first level of systematically collated evidence. These findings provide a resource for the development of theory-based interventions, and for theoretical understanding of intervention evaluations. The extent to which these links are empirically supported requires systematic investigation.

Type: Article
Title: Behavior Change Techniques and Their Mechanisms of Action: A Synthesis of Links Described in Published Intervention Literature
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/abm/kay078
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/abm/kay078
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Behavior change, Theory, Methodology, Behavior change technique, Mechanism of action, Evidence synthesis
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10059476
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