From theory to intervention: Mapping theoretically derived behavioural determinants to behaviour change techniques

Susan Michie (Lead Author), Marie Johnston, Jill Francis, Wendy Hardeman, Martin Eccles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1203 Citations (Scopus)


Theory provides a helpful basis for designing interventions to change behaviour but offers little guidance on how to do this. This paper aims to illustrate methods for developing an extensive list of behaviour change techniques (with definitions) and for linking techniques to theoretical constructs. A list of techniques and definitions was generated from techniques published in two systematic reviews, supplemented by "brainstorming" and a systematic search of nine textbooks used in training applied psychologists. Inter-rater reliability of extracting the techniques and definitions from the textbooks was assessed. Four experts judged which techniques would be effective in changing 11 theoretical constructs associated with behaviour change. Thirty-five techniques identified in the reviews were extended to 53 by brainstorming and to 137 by consulting textbooks. Agreement for the 53 definitions was 74.7 per cent (15.4% cells completed and 59.3% cells empty for both raters). Agreement about the link between the 35 techniques and theoretical constructs was 71.7 per cent of 385 judgments (12.2% agreement that effective and 59.5% agreement that not effective). This preliminary work demonstrates the possibility of developing a comprehensive, reliable taxonomy of techniques linked to theory. Further refinement is needed to eliminate redundancies, resolve uncertainties, and complete technique definitions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-680
Number of pages21
JournalApplied Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date8 Jul 2008
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008

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