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Links Between Behavior Change Techniques and Mechanisms of Action: An Expert Consensus Study

Connell, LE; Carey, RN; de Bruin, M; Rothman, AJ; Johnston, M; Kelly, MP; Michie, S; (2019) Links Between Behavior Change Techniques and Mechanisms of Action: An Expert Consensus Study. Annals of Behavioral Medicine , 53 (8) pp. 708-720. 10.1093/abm/kay082. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Understanding the mechanisms through which behavior change techniques (BCTs) can modify behavior is important for the development and evaluation of effective behavioral interventions. To advance the field, we require a shared knowledge of the mechanisms of action (MoAs) through which BCTs may operate when influencing behavior. Purpose: To elicit expert consensus on links between BCTs and MoAs. Methods: In a modified Nominal Group Technique study, 105 international behavior change experts rated, discussed, and rerated links between 61 frequently used BCTs and 26 MoAs. The criterion for consensus was that at least 80 per cent of experts reached agreement about a link. Heat maps were used to present the data relating to all possible links. Results: Of 1,586 possible links (61 BCTs × 26 MoAs), 51 of 61 (83.6 per cent) BCTs had a definite link to one or more MoAs (mean [SD] = 1.44 [0.96], range = 1-4), and 20 of 26 (76.9 per cent) MoAs had a definite link to one or more BCTs (mean [SD] = 3.27 [2.91], range = 9). Ninety (5.7 per cent) were identified as "definite" links, 464 (29.2 per cent) as "definitely not" links, and 1,032 (65.1 per cent) as "possible" or "unsure" links. No "definite" links were identified for 10 BCTs (e.g., "Action Planning" and "Behavioural Substitution") and for six MoAs (e.g., "Needs" and "Optimism"). Conclusions: The matrix of links between BCTs and MoAs provides a basis for those developing and synthesizing behavioral interventions. These links also provide a framework for specifying empirical tests in future studies.

Type: Article
Title: Links Between Behavior Change Techniques and Mechanisms of Action: An Expert Consensus Study
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/abm/kay082
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/abm/kay082
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Behavior change, Theory, Methodology,Behavior change technique, Mechanism of action, Expert consensus
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/10063300
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