Evidence of variations in red blood cell transfusion practices have been reported in a wide range of clinical settings. Parallel studies in Canada and the United Kingdom were designed to explore transfusion behaviour in intensive care physicians. The aim of this paper is three-fold: first, to explore beliefs that influence Canadian intensive care physicians’ transfusion behaviour; second, to systematically select relevant theories and models using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) to inform a future predictive study; and third, to compare its results with the UK study.
Ten intensive care unit (ICU) physicians throughout Canada were interviewed. Physicians’ responses were coded into theoretical domains, and specific beliefs were generated for each response. Theoretical domains relevant to behaviour change were identified, and specific constructs from the relevant domains were used to select psychological theories. The results from Canada and the United Kingdom were compared.
Seven theoretical domains populated by 31 specific beliefs were identified as relevant to the target behaviour. The domains Beliefs about capabilities (confident to not transfuse if patients’ clinical condition is stable), Beliefs about consequences (positive beliefs of reducing infection and saving resources and negative beliefs about risking patients’ clinical outcome and potentially more work), Social influences (transfusion decision is influenced by team members and patients’ relatives), and Behavioural regulation (wide range of approaches to encourage restrictive transfusion) that were identified in the UK study were also relevant in the Canadian context. Three additional domains, Knowledge (it requires more evidence to support restrictive transfusion), Social/professional role and identity (conflicting beliefs about not adhering to guidelines, referring to evidence, believing restrictive transfusion as professional standard, and believing that guideline is important for other professionals), and Motivation and goals (opposing beliefs about the importance of restrictive transfusion and compatibility with other goals), were also identified in this study. Similar to the UK study, the Theory of Planned Behaviour, Social Cognitive Theory, Operant Learning Theory, Action Planning, and Knowledge-Attitude-Behaviour model were identified as potentially relevant theories and models for further study. Personal project analysis was added to the Canadian study to explore the Motivation and goals domain in further detail.
A wide range of beliefs was identified by the Canadian ICU physicians as likely to influence their transfusion behaviour. We were able to demonstrate similar though not identical results in a cross-country comparison. Designing targeted behaviour-change interventions based on unique beliefs identified by physicians from two countries are more likely to encourage restrictive transfusion in ICU physicians in respective countries. This needs to be tested in future prospective clinical trials.
Within implementation research, using theory-based approaches to understanding the behaviours of healthcare professionals and the quality of care that they reflect and designing interventions to change them is being promoted. However, such approaches lead to a new range of methodological and theoretical challenges pre-eminent among which are how to appropriately relate predictors of individual's behaviour to measures of the behaviour of healthcare professionals. The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between the theory of planned behaviour proximal predictors of behaviour (intention and perceived behavioural control, or PBC) and practice level behaviour. This was done in the context of two clinical behaviours – statin prescription and foot examination – in the management of patients with diabetes mellitus in primary care. Scores for the predictor variables were aggregated over healthcare professionals using four methods: simple mean of all primary care team members' intention scores; highest intention score combined with PBC of the highest intender in the team; highest intention score combined with the highest PBC score in the team; the scores (on both constructs) of the team member identified as having primary responsibility for the clinical behaviour.
Scores on theory-based cognitive variables were collected by postal questionnaire survey from a sample of primary care doctors and nurses from northeast England and the Netherlands. Data on two clinical behaviours were patient reported, and collected by postal questionnaire survey. Planned analyses explored the predictive value of various aggregations of intention and PBC in explaining variance in the behavioural data.
Across the two countries and two behaviours, responses were received from 37 to 78% of healthcare professionals in 57 to 93% practices; 51% (UK) and 69% (Netherlands) of patients surveyed responded. None of the aggregations of cognitions predicted statin prescription. The highest intention in the team (irrespective of PBC) was a significant predictor of foot examination.
These approaches to aggregating individually-administered measures may be a methodological advance of theoretical importance. Using simple means of individual-level measures to explain team-level behaviours is neither theoretically plausible nor empirically supported; the highest intention was both predictive and plausible. In studies aiming to understand the behaviours of teams of healthcare professionals in managing chronic diseases, some sort of aggregation of measures from individuals is necessary. This is not simply a methodological point, but a necessary step in advancing the theoretical and practical understanding of the processes that lead to implementation of clinical behaviours within healthcare teams.
Behaviour change is key to increasing the uptake of evidence into healthcare practice. Designing behaviour-change interventions first requires problem analysis, ideally informed by theory. Yet the large number of partly overlapping theories of behaviour makes it difficult to select the most appropriate theory. The need for an overarching theoretical framework of behaviour change was addressed in research in which 128 explanatory constructs from 33 theories of behaviour were identified and grouped. The resulting Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) appears to be a helpful basis for investigating implementation problems. Research groups in several countries have conducted TDF-based studies. It seems timely to bring together the experience of these teams in a thematic series to demonstrate further applications and to report key developments. This overview article describes the TDF, provides a brief critique of the framework, and introduces this thematic series.
In a brief review to assess the extent of TDF-based research, we identified 133 papers that cite the framework. Of these, 17 used the TDF as the basis for empirical studies to explore health professionals’ behaviour. The identified papers provide evidence of the impact of the TDF on implementation research. Two major strengths of the framework are its theoretical coverage and its capacity to elicit beliefs that could signify key mediators of behaviour change. The TDF provides a useful conceptual basis for assessing implementation problems, designing interventions to enhance healthcare practice, and understanding behaviour-change processes. We discuss limitations and research challenges and introduce papers in this series.
Tobacco use adversely affects oral health. Tobacco use prevention and cessation (TUPAC) counselling guidelines recommend that healthcare providers ask about each patient's tobacco use, assess the patient's readiness and willingness to stop, document tobacco use habits, advise the patient to stop, assist and help in quitting, and arrange monitoring of progress at follow-up appointments. Adherence to such guidelines, especially among dental providers, is poor. To improve guideline implementation, it is essential to understand factors influencing it and find effective ways to influence those factors. The aim of the present study protocol is to introduce a theory-based approach to diagnose implementation difficulties of TUPAC counselling guidelines among dental providers.
Theories of behaviour change have been used to identify key theoretical domains relevant to the behaviours of healthcare providers involved in implementing clinical guidelines. These theoretical domains will inform the development of a questionnaire aimed at assessing the implementation of the TUPAC counselling guidelines among Finnish municipal dental providers. Specific items will be drawn from the guidelines and the literature on TUPAC studies. After identifying potential implementation difficulties, we will design two interventions using theories of behaviour change to link them with relevant behaviour change techniques aiming to improve guideline adherence. For assessing the implementation of TUPAC guidelines, the electronic dental record audit and self-reported questionnaires will be used.
To improve guideline adherence, the theoretical-domains approach could provide a comprehensive basis for assessing implementation difficulties, as well as designing and evaluating interventions. After having identified implementation difficulties, we will design and test two interventions to enhance TUPAC guideline adherence. Using the cluster randomised controlled design, we aim to provide further evidence on intervention effects, as well as on the validity and feasibility of the theoretical-domain approach. The empirical data collected within this trial will be useful in testing whether this theoretical-domain approach can improve our understanding of the implementation of TUPAC guidelines among dental providers.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN15427433
Behavioural approaches to knowledge translation inform interventions to improve healthcare. However, such approaches often focus on a single behaviour without considering that health professionals perform multiple behaviours in pursuit of multiple goals in a given clinical context. In resource-limited consultations, performing these other goal-directed behaviours may influence optimal performance of a particular evidence-based behaviour. This study aimed to investigate whether a multiple goal-directed behaviour perspective might inform implementation research beyond single-behaviour approaches.
We conducted theory-based semi-structured interviews with 12 general medical practitioners (GPs) in Scotland on their views regarding two focal clinical behaviours--providing physical activity (PA) advice and prescribing to reduce blood pressure (BP) to <140/80 mmHg--in consultations with patients with diabetes and persistent hypertension. Theory-based constructs investigated were: intention and control beliefs from the theory of planned behaviour, and perceived interfering and facilitating influence of other goal-directed behaviours performed in a diabetes consultation. We coded interview content into pre-specified theory-based constructs and organised codes into themes within each construct using thematic analysis.
Most GPs reported strong intention to prescribe to reduce BP but expressed reasons why they would not. Intention to provide PA advice was variable. Most GPs reported that time constraints and patient preference detrimentally affected their control over providing PA advice and prescribing to reduce BP, respectively. Most GPs perceived many of their other goal-directed behaviours as interfering with providing PA advice, while fewer GPs reported goal-directed behaviours that interfere with prescribing to reduce BP. Providing PA advice and prescribing to reduce BP were perceived to be facilitated by similar diabetes-related behaviours (e.g., discussing cholesterol). While providing PA advice was perceived to be mainly facilitated by providing other lifestyle-related clinical advice (e.g., talking about weight), BP prescribing was reported as facilitated by pursuing ongoing standard consultation-related goals (e.g., clearly structuring the consultation).
GPs readily relate their other goal-directed behaviours with having a facilitating and interfering influence on their performance of particular evidence-based behaviours. This may have implications for advancing the theoretical development of behavioural approaches to implementation research beyond single-behaviour models.
Theories from social and behavioural science can make an important
contribution to the process of developing a conceptual framework for
improving use of clinical practice guidelines and clinician performance. A
conceptual framework for guideline dissemination and implementation is
presented which draws on relevant concepts from diffusion of innovation
theory, the transtheoretical model of behaviour change, health education
theory, social influence theory, and social ecology, as well as evidence
from systematic literature reviews on the effectiveness of various
behaviour change strategies. The framework emphasises the need for
pre-implementation assessment of (a) readiness of clinicians to adopt
guidelines into practice, (b) barriers to change as experienced by
clinicians, and (c) the level at which interventions should be targeted. It
also incorporates the need for multifaceted interventions, identifies the
type of barriers which will be addressed by each strategy, and develops the
concept of progression through stages of guideline adoption by clinicians,
with the use of appropriately targeted support strategies. The potential
value of the model is that it may enable those involved in the process of
guideline dissemination and implementation to direct strategies to target
groups more effectively. Clearly, the effectiveness and utility of the
model in facilitating guideline dissemination and implementation requires
validation by further empirical research. Until such research is available,
it provides a theoretical framework that may assist in the selection of
appropriate guideline dissemination and implementation strategies.
The Canadian CT Head Rule was prospectively derived and validated to assist clinicians with diagnostic decision-making regarding the use of computed tomography (CT) in adult patients with minor head injury. A recent intervention trial failed to demonstrate a decrease in the rate of head CTs following implementation of the rule in Canadian emergency departments. Yet, the same intervention, which included a one-hour educational session and reminders at the point of requisition, was successful in reducing cervical spine imaging rates in the same emergency departments. The reason for the varied effect of the intervention across these two behaviours is unclear. There is an increasing appreciation for the use of theory to conduct process evaluations to better understand how strategies are linked with outcomes in implementation trials. The Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) has been used to explore health professional behaviour and to design behaviour change interventions but, to date, has not been used to guide a theory-based process evaluation. In this proof of concept study, we explored whether the TDF could be used to guide a retrospective process evaluation to better understand emergency physicians’ responses to the interventions employed in the Canadian CT Head Rule trial.
A semi-structured interview guide, based on the 12 domains from the TDF, was used to conduct telephone interviews with project leads and physician participants from the intervention sites in the Canadian CT Head Rule trial. Two reviewers independently coded the anonymised interview transcripts using the TDF as a coding framework. Relevant domains were identified by: the presence of conflicting beliefs within a domain; the frequency of beliefs; and the likely strength of the impact of a belief on the behaviour.
Eight physicians from four of the intervention sites in the Canadian CT Head Rule trial participated in the interviews. Barriers likely to assist with understanding physicians’ responses to the intervention in the trial were identified in six of the theoretical domains: beliefs about consequences; beliefs about capabilities; behavioural regulation; memory, attention and decision processes; environmental context and resources; and social influences. Despite knowledge that the Canadian CT Head Rule was highly sensitive and reliable for identifying clinically important brain injuries and strong beliefs about the benefits for using the rule, a number of barriers were identified that may have prevented physicians from consistently applying the rule.
This proof of concept study demonstrates the use of the TDF as a guiding framework to design a retrospective theory-based process evaluation. There is a need for further development and testing of methods for using the TDF to guide theory-based process evaluations running alongside behaviour change intervention trials.
Evaluations of interventions to improve implementation of guidelines have failed to produce a clear pattern of results favouring a particular method. While implementation depends on clinicians and managers changing a variety of behaviours, psychological theories of behaviour and behaviour change are seldom used to try to understand difficulties in implementation or to develop interventions to overcome them.
This study applied psychological theory to examine explanations for difficulties in implementation. It used a theoretical framework derived from an interdisciplinary consensus exercise to code interviews across 11 theoretical domains. The focus of the study was a National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's Schizophrenia guideline recommendation that family intervention should be offered to the families of people with schizophrenia.
Participants were recruited from community mental health teams from three United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS) Trusts; 20 members (social workers, nurses, team managers, psychologists, and psychiatrists) participated. Semi-structured interviews were audio-taped and transcribed. Interview questions were based on the theoretical domains and addressed respondents' knowledge, attitudes and opinions regarding the guideline. Two researchers independently coded the transcript segments from each interview that were related to each theoretical domain. A score of 1 indicated that the transcript segments relating to the domain did not appear to contain description of difficulties in implementation of the family therapy guidelines; similarly a score of 0.5 indicated possible difficulties and a score of 0 indicated definite difficulties.
Coding respondents' answers to questions related to the three domains 'beliefs about consequences,' 'social/professional role and identity,' and 'motivation' produced the three highest total scores indicating that factors relating to these domains were unlikely to constitute difficulties in implementation. 'Environmental context and resources' was the lowest scoring domain, with 'Emotion' scoring the second lowest, suggesting that these were likely to be areas for considering intervention. The two main resources identified as problems were time and training. The emotions that appeared to potentially influence the offer of family therapy were self-doubt and fear.
This exploratory study demonstrates an approach to developing a theoretical understanding of implementation difficulties.
Implementation research is the scientific study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of clinical research findings into routine clinical practice. Several interventions have been shown to be effective in changing health care professionals' behaviour, but heterogeneity within interventions, targeted behaviours, and study settings make generalisation difficult. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the 'active ingredients' in professional behaviour change strategies. Theories of human behaviour that feature an individual's "intention" to do something as the most immediate predictor of their behaviour have proved to be useful in non-clinical populations. As clinical practice is a form of human behaviour such theories may offer a basis for developing a scientific rationale for the choice of intervention to use in the implementation of new practice. The aim of this review was to explore the relationship between intention and behaviour in clinicians and how this compares to the intention-behaviour relationship in studies of non-clinicians.
We searched: PsycINFO, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Science/Social science citation index, Current contents (social & behavioural med/clinical med), ISI conference proceedings, and Index to Theses. The reference lists of all included papers were checked manually. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they had: examined a clinical behaviour within a clinical context, included measures of both intention and behaviour, measured behaviour after intention, and explored this relationship quantitatively. All titles and abstracts retrieved by electronic searching were screened independently by two reviewers, with disagreements resolved by discussion.
Ten studies were found that examined the relationship between intention and clinical behaviours in 1623 health professionals. The proportion of variance in behaviour explained by intention was of a similar magnitude to that found in the literature relating to non-health professionals. This was more consistently the case for studies in which intention-behaviour correspondence was good and behaviour was self-reported. Though firm conclusions are limited by a smaller literature, our findings are consistent with that of the non-health professional literature. This review, viewed in the context of the larger populations of studies, provides encouragement for the contention that there is a predictable relationship between the intentions of a health professional and their subsequent behaviour. However, there remain significant methodological challenges.
Randomised controlled trials of implementation strategies tell us whether (or not) an intervention results in changes in professional behaviour but little about the causal mechanisms that produce any change. Theory-based process evaluations collect data on theoretical constructs alongside randomised trials to explore possible causal mechanisms and effect modifiers. This is similar to measuring intermediate endpoints in clinical trials to further understand the biological basis of any observed effects (for example, measuring lipid profiles alongside trials of lipid lowering drugs where the primary endpoint could be reduction in vascular related deaths).
This study protocol describes a theory-based process evaluation alongside the Ontario Printed Educational Message (OPEM) trial. We hypothesize that the OPEM interventions are most likely to operate through changes in physicians' behavioural intentions due to improved attitudes or subjective norms with little or no change in perceived behavioural control. We will test this hypothesis using a well-validated social cognition model, the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) that incorporates these constructs.
We will develop theory-based surveys using standard methods based upon the TPB for the second and third replications, and survey a subsample of Ontario family physicians from each arm of the trial two months before and six months after the dissemination of the index edition of informed, the evidence based newsletter used for the interventions. In the third replication, our study will converge with the "TRY-ME" protocol (a second study conducted alongside the OPEM trial), in which the content of educational messages was constructed using both standard methods and methods informed by psychological theory. We will modify Dillman's total design method to maximise response rates. Preliminary analyses will initially assess the internal reliability of the measures and use regression to explore the relationships between predictor and dependent variable (intention to advise diabetic patients to have annual retinopathy screening and to prescribe thiazide diuretics for first line treatment of uncomplicated hypertension). We will then compare groups using methods appropriate for comparing independent samples to determine whether there have been changes in the predicted constructs (attitudes, subjective norms, or intentions) across the study groups as hypothesised, and will assess the convergence between the process evaluation results and the main trial results.
Trial registration number
Current controlled trial ISRCTN72772651
Behavioural science when combined with engineering, epidemiology and other disciplines creates a full picture of the often fragmented injury puzzle and informs comprehensive solutions. To assist efforts to include behavioural science in injury prevention strategies, this paper presents a methodological tutorial that aims to introduce best practices in behavioural intervention development and testing to injury professionals new to behavioural science. This tutorial attempts to bridge research to practice through the presentation of a practical, systematic, six-step approach that borrows from established frameworks in health promotion and disease prevention. Central to the approach is the creation of a programme theory that links a theoretically grounded, empirically tested behaviour change model to intervention components and their evaluation. Serving as a compass, a programme theory allows for systematic focusing of resources on the likely most potent behavioural intervention components and directs evaluation of intervention impact and implementation. For illustration, the six-step approach is applied to the creation of a new peer-to-peer campaign, Ride Like a Friend/Drive Like You Care, to promote safe teen driver and passenger behaviours.
Behaviour; program theory; evaluation; driver; injury; logic model; communication; intervention; prevention; road traffic injury; accident; adolescent; teen driver; injury prevention; safety promotion
Background: Evidence-based guidelines are often not implemented effectively with the result that best health outcomes are not achieved. This may be due to a lack of theoretical understanding of the processes involved in changing the behaviour of healthcare professionals. This paper reports the development of a consensus on a theoretical framework that could be used in implementation research. The objectives were to identify an agreed set of key theoretical constructs for use in (1) studying the implementation of evidence based practice and (2) developing strategies for effective implementation, and to communicate these constructs to an interdisciplinary audience.
Methods: Six phases of work were conducted to develop a consensus: (1) identifying theoretical constructs; (2) simplifying into construct domains; (3) evaluating the importance of the construct domains; (4) interdisciplinary evaluation; (5) validating the domain list; and (6) piloting interview questions. The contributors were a "psychological theory" group (n = 18), a "health services research" group (n = 13), and a "health psychology" group (n = 30).
Results: Twelve domains were identified to explain behaviour change: (1) knowledge, (2) skills, (3) social/professional role and identity, (4) beliefs about capabilities, (5) beliefs about consequences, (6) motivation and goals, (7) memory, attention and decision processes, (8) environmental context and resources, (9) social influences, (10) emotion regulation, (11) behavioural regulation, and (12) nature of the behaviour.
Conclusions: A set of behaviour change domains agreed by a consensus of experts is available for use in implementation research. Applications of this domain list will enhance understanding of the behaviour change processes inherent in implementation of evidence-based practice and will also test the validity of these proposed domains.
Biomedical research constantly produces new findings, but these are not routinely incorporated into health care practice. Currently, a range of interventions to promote the uptake of emerging evidence are available. While their effectiveness has been tested in pragmatic trials, these do not form a basis from which to generalise to routine care settings. Implementation research is the scientific study of methods to promote the uptake of research findings, and hence to reduce inappropriate care. As clinical practice is a form of human behaviour, theories of human behaviour that have proved to be useful in other settings offer a basis for developing a scientific rationale for the choice of interventions.
The aims of this protocol are 1) to develop interventions to change beliefs that have already been identified as antecedents to antibiotic prescribing for sore throats, and 2) to experimentally evaluate these interventions to identify those that have the largest impact on behavioural intention and behavioural simulation.
The clinical focus for this work will be the management of uncomplicated sore throat in general practice. Symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections are common presenting features in primary care. They are frequently treated with antibiotics, and research evidence is clear that antibiotic treatment offers little or no benefit to otherwise healthy adult patients.
Reducing antibiotic prescribing in the community by the "prudent" use of antibiotics is seen as one way to slow the rise in antibiotic resistance, and appears safe, at least in children. However, our understanding of how to do this is limited.
Participants will be general medical practitioners. Two theory-based interventions will be designed to address the discriminant beliefs in the prescribing of antibiotics for sore throat, using empirically derived resources. The interventions will be evaluated in a 2 × 2 factorial randomised controlled trial delivered in a postal questionnaire survey. Two outcome measures will be assessed: behavioural intention and behavioural simulation.
Psychological theories of behaviour may provide a framework to guide the design of interventions to change professional behaviour. Behaviour change interventions, designed using psychological theory and targeting important motivational beliefs, were experimentally evaluated for effects on the behavioural intention and simulated behaviour of GPs in the management of uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection (URTI).
The design was a 2 × 2 factorial randomised controlled trial. A postal questionnaire was developed based on three theories of human behaviour: Theory of Planned Behaviour; Social Cognitive Theory and Operant Learning Theory. The beliefs and attitudes of GPs regarding the management of URTI without antibiotics and rates of prescribing on eight patient scenarios were measured at baseline and post-intervention. Two theory-based interventions, a "graded task" with "action planning" and a "persuasive communication", were incorporated into the post-intervention questionnaire. Trial groups were compared using co-variate analyses.
Post-intervention questionnaires were returned for 340/397 (86%) GPs who responded to the baseline survey. Each intervention had a significant effect on its targeted behavioural belief: compared to those not receiving the intervention GPs completing Intervention 1 reported stronger self-efficacy scores (Beta = 1.41, 95% CI: 0.64 to 2.25) and GPs completing Intervention 2 had more positive anticipated consequences scores (Beta = 0.98, 95% CI = 0.46 to 1.98). Intervention 2 had a significant effect on intention (Beta = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.41 to 1.38) and simulated behaviour (Beta = 0.47, 95% CI = 0.19 to 0.74).
GPs' intended management of URTI was significantly influenced by their confidence in their ability to manage URTI without antibiotics and the consequences they anticipated as a result of doing so. Two targeted behaviour change interventions differentially affected these beliefs. One intervention also significantly enhanced GPs' intentions not to prescribe antibiotics for URTI and resulted in lower rates of prescribing on patient scenarios compared to a control group. The theoretical frameworks utilised provide a scientific rationale for understanding how and why the interventions had these effects, improving the reproducibility and generalisability of these findings and offering a sound basis for an intervention in a "real world" trial.
Evidence shows that antibiotics have limited effectiveness in the management of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) yet GPs continue to prescribe antibiotics. Implementation research does not currently provide a strong evidence base to guide the choice of interventions to promote the uptake of such evidence-based practice by health professionals. While systematic reviews demonstrate that interventions to change clinical practice can be effective, heterogeneity between studies hinders generalisation to routine practice. Psychological models of behaviour change that have been used successfully to predict variation in behaviour in the general population can also predict the clinical behaviour of healthcare professionals. The purpose of this study was to design two theoretically-based interventions to promote the management of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) without prescribing antibiotics.
Interventions were developed using a systematic, empirically informed approach in which we: selected theoretical frameworks; identified modifiable behavioural antecedents that predicted GPs intended and actual management of URTI; mapped these target antecedents on to evidence-based behaviour change techniques; and operationalised intervention components in a format suitable for delivery by postal questionnaire.
We identified two psychological constructs that predicted GP management of URTI: "Self-efficacy," representing belief in one's capabilities, and "Anticipated consequences," representing beliefs about the consequences of one's actions. Behavioural techniques known to be effective in changing these beliefs were used in the design of two paper-based, interactive interventions. Intervention 1 targeted self-efficacy and required GPs to consider progressively more difficult situations in a "graded task" and to develop an "action plan" of what to do when next presented with one of these situations. Intervention 2 targeted anticipated consequences and required GPs to respond to a "persuasive communication" containing a series of pictures representing the consequences of managing URTI with and without antibiotics.
It is feasible to systematically develop theoretically-based interventions to change professional practice. Two interventions were designed that differentially target generalisable constructs predictive of GP management of URTI. Our detailed and scientific rationale for the choice and design of our interventions will provide a basis for understanding any effects identified in their evaluation.
Social cognitive theories on behaviour change are increasingly being used to understand and predict healthcare professionals’ intentions and clinical behaviours. Although these theories offer important insights into how new behaviours are initiated, they provide an incomplete account of how changes in clinical practice occur by failing to consider the role of cue-contingent habits. This article contributes to better understanding of the role of habits in clinical practice and how improved effectiveness of behavioural strategies in implementation research might be achieved.
Habit is behaviour that has been repeated until it has become more or less automatic, enacted without purposeful thinking, largely without any sense of awareness. The process of forming habits occurs through a gradual shift in cognitive control from intentional to automatic processes. As behaviour is repeated in the same context, the control of behaviour gradually shifts from being internally guided (e.g., beliefs, attitudes, and intention) to being triggered by situational or contextual cues. Much clinical practice occurs in stable healthcare contexts and can be assumed to be habitual. Empirical findings in various fields suggest that behaviours that are repeated in constant contexts are difficult to change. Hence, interventions that focus on changing the context that maintains those habits have a greater probability of success. Some sort of contextual disturbance provides a window of opportunity in which a behaviour is more likely to be deliberately considered. Forming desired habits requires behaviour to be carried out repeatedly in the presence of the same contextual cues.
Social cognitive theories provide insight into how humans analytically process information and carefully plan actions, but their utility is more limited when it comes to explaining repeated behaviours that do not require such an ongoing contemplative decisional process. However, despite a growing interest in applying behavioural theory in interventions to change clinical practice, the potential importance of habit has not been explored in implementation research.
Habits; Social cognitive theories; Clinical behaviour; Interventions
The results of randomised controlled trials can be usefully illuminated by studies of the processes by which they achieve their effects. The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) offers a framework for conducting such studies. This study used TPB to explore the observed effects in a pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial of a structured recall and prompting intervention to increase evidence-based diabetes care that was conducted in three Primary Care Trusts in England.
All general practitioners and nurses in practices involved in the trial were sent a postal questionnaire at the end of the intervention period, based on the TPB (predictor variables: attitude; subjective norm; perceived behavioural control, or PBC). It focussed on three clinical behaviours recommended in diabetes care: measuring blood pressure; inspecting feet; and prescribing statins. Multivariate analyses of variance and multiple regression analyses were used to explore changes in cognitions and thereby better understand trial effects.
Fifty-nine general medical practitioners and 53 practice nurses (intervention: n = 55, 41.98% of trial participants; control: n = 57, 38.26% of trial participants) completed the questionnaire. There were no differences between groups in mean scores for attitudes, subjective norms, PBC or intentions. Control group clinicians had 'normatively-driven' intentions (i.e., related to subjective norm scores), whereas intervention group clinicians had 'attitudinally-driven' intentions (i.e., related to attitude scores) for foot inspection and statin prescription. After controlling for effects of the three predictor variables, this group difference was significant for foot inspection behaviour (trial group × attitude interaction, beta = 0.72, p < 0.05; trial group × subjective norm interaction, beta = -0.65, p < 0.05).
Attitudinally-driven intentions are proposed to be more consistently translated into action than normatively-driven intentions. This proposition was supported by the findings, thus offering an interpretation of the trial effects. This analytic approach demonstrates the potential of the TPB to explain trial effects in terms of different relationships between variables rather than differences in mean scores. This study illustrates the use of theory-based process evaluation to uncover processes underlying change in implementation trials.
For people with dementia, patient-centred care should involve timely explanation of the diagnosis and its implications. However, this is not routine. Theoretical models of behaviour change offer a generalisable framework for understanding professional practice and identifying modifiable factors to target with an intervention. Theoretical models and empirical work indicate that behavioural intention represents a modifiable predictor of actual professional behaviour. We identified factors that predict the intentions of members of older people's mental health teams (MHTs) to perform key behaviours involved in the disclosure of dementia.
Postal questionnaire survey.
Professionals from MHTs in the English National Health Service.
We selected three behaviours: Determining what patients already know or suspect about their diagnosis; using explicit terminology when talking to patients; and exploring what the diagnosis means to patients. The questionnaire was based upon the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), and exploratory team variables.
Out of 1,269 professionals working in 85 MHTs, 399 (31.4%) returned completed questionnaires. Overall, the TPB best explained behavioural intention. For determining what patients already know, the TPB variables of subjective norm, perceived behavioural control and attitude explained 29.4% of the variance in intention. For the use of explicit terminology, the same variables explained 53.7% of intention. For exploring what the diagnosis means to patients, subjective norm and perceived behavioural control explained 48.6% of intention.
These psychological models can explain up to half of the variation in intention to perform key disclosure behaviours. This provides an empirically-supported, theoretical basis for the design of interventions to improve disclosure practice by targeting relevant predictive factors.
Long term management of patients with Type 2 diabetes is well established within Primary Care. However, despite extensive efforts to implement high quality care both service provision and patient health outcomes remain sub-optimal. Several recent studies suggest that psychological theories about individuals' behaviour can provide a valuable framework for understanding generalisable factors underlying health professionals' clinical behaviour. In the context of the team management of chronic disease such as diabetes, however, the application of such models is less well established. The aim of this study was to identify motivational factors underlying health professional teams' clinical management of diabetes using a psychological model of human behaviour.
A predictive questionnaire based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) investigated health professionals' (HPs') cognitions (e.g., beliefs, attitudes and intentions) about the provision of two aspects of care for patients with diabetes: prescribing statins and inspecting feet.
General practitioners and practice nurses in England and the Netherlands completed parallel questionnaires, cross-validated for equivalence in English and Dutch. Behavioural data were practice-level patient-reported rates of foot examination and use of statin medication. Relationships between the cognitive antecedents of behaviour proposed by the TPB and healthcare teams' clinical behaviour were explored using multiple regression.
In both countries, attitude and subjective norm were important predictors of health professionals' intention to inspect feet (Attitude: beta = .40; Subjective Norm: beta = .28; Adjusted R2 = .34, p < 0.01), and their intention to prescribe statins (Attitude: beta = .44; Adjusted R2 = .40, p < 0.01). Individuals' self-reported intention did not predict practice-level performance of either clinical behaviour.
Using the TPB, we identified modifiable factors underlying health professionals' intentions to perform two clinical behaviours, providing a rationale for the development of targeted interventions. However, we did not observe a relationship between health professionals' intentions and our proxy measure of team behaviour. Significant methodological issues were highlighted concerning the use of models of individual behaviour to explain behaviours performed by teams. In order to investigate clinical behaviours performed by teams it may be necessary to develop measures that reflect the collective cognitions of the members of the team to facilitate the application of these theoretical models to team behaviours.
Psychological models are used to understand and predict behaviour in a wide range of settings, but have not been consistently applied to health professional behaviours, and the contribution of differing theories is not clear. This study explored the usefulness of a range of models to predict an evidence-based behaviour -- the placing of fissure sealants.
Measures were collected by postal questionnaire from a random sample of general dental practitioners (GDPs) in Scotland. Outcomes were behavioural simulation (scenario decision-making), and behavioural intention. Predictor variables were from the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), Common Sense Self-regulation Model (CS-SRM), Operant Learning Theory (OLT), Implementation Intention (II), Stage Model, and knowledge (a non-theoretical construct). Multiple regression analysis was used to examine the predictive value of each theoretical model individually. Significant constructs from all theories were then entered into a 'cross theory' stepwise regression analysis to investigate their combined predictive value
Behavioural simulation - theory level variance explained was: TPB 31%; SCT 29%; II 7%; OLT 30%. Neither CS-SRM nor stage explained significant variance. In the cross theory analysis, habit (OLT), timeline acute (CS-SRM), and outcome expectancy (SCT) entered the equation, together explaining 38% of the variance. Behavioural intention - theory level variance explained was: TPB 30%; SCT 24%; OLT 58%, CS-SRM 27%. GDPs in the action stage had significantly higher intention to place fissure sealants. In the cross theory analysis, habit (OLT) and attitude (TPB) entered the equation, together explaining 68% of the variance in intention.
The study provides evidence that psychological models can be useful in understanding and predicting clinical behaviour. Taking a theory-based approach enables the creation of a replicable methodology for identifying factors that may predict clinical behaviour and so provide possible targets for knowledge translation interventions. Results suggest that more evidence-based behaviour may be achieved by influencing beliefs about the positive outcomes of placing fissure sealants and building a habit of placing them as part of patient management. However a number of conceptual and methodological challenges remain.
Purpose: The purpose of this article is to apply theoretical frameworks to adherence behaviour and to guide the development of an intervention to increase adherence to prescribed home programmes.
Summary of Key Points: Delivering an effective intervention requires establishing one that is evidence based and of adequate dosage. Two-thirds of patients who receive home exercise prescriptions do not adhere to their home programme, which may contribute to their physiotherapy's being ineffective. The mediating concepts of self-efficacy (SE) and outcome expectations (OE) are common to the five relevant theories used to explain adherence to exercise: the health belief model, protection motivation theory, theory of reasoned action, theory of planned behaviour, and social cognitive theory.
Conclusion/Recommendations: Few intervention studies with any theoretical underpinning have examined adherence to exercise. Even fewer have been designed to affect and measure change in the theoretical mediators of SE and OE in patient populations. Physiotherapists must consider increasing adherence as a component of effective physiotherapy. Ongoing research is needed to increase our understanding of adherence to prescribed home programmes and to design interventions to affect theoretical mediators for increasing adherence.
adherence; learning; motor; practice; theory; fidélité; apprentissage; moteur; pratique; théorie
Prescribing errors are a major source of morbidity and mortality and represent a significant patient safety concern. Evidence suggests that trainee doctors are responsible for most prescribing errors. Understanding the factors that influence prescribing behavior may lead to effective interventions to reduce errors. Existing investigations of prescribing errors have been based on Human Error Theory but not on other relevant behavioral theories. The aim of this study was to apply a broad theory-based approach using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) to investigate prescribing in the hospital context among a sample of trainee doctors.
Semistructured interviews, based on 12 theoretical domains, were conducted with 22 trainee doctors to explore views, opinions, and experiences of prescribing and prescribing errors. Content analysis was conducted, followed by applying relevance criteria and a novel stage of critical appraisal, to identify which theoretical domains could be targeted in interventions to improve prescribing.
Seven theoretical domains met the criteria of relevance: “social professional role and identity,” “environmental context and resources,” “social influences,” “knowledge,” “skills,” “memory, attention, and decision making,” and “behavioral regulation.” From critical appraisal of the interview data, “beliefs about consequences” and “beliefs about capabilities” were also identified as potentially important domains. Interrelationships between domains were evident. Additionally, the data supported theoretical elaboration of the domain behavioral regulation.
In this investigation of hospital-based prescribing, participants’ attributions about causes of errors were used to identify domains that could be targeted in interventions to improve prescribing. In a departure from previous TDF practice, critical appraisal was used to identify additional domains that should also be targeted, despite participants’ perceptions that they were not relevant to prescribing errors. These were beliefs about consequences and beliefs about capabilities. Specifically, in the light of the documented high error rate, beliefs that prescribing errors were not likely to have consequences for patients and that trainee doctors are capable of prescribing without error should also be targeted in an intervention. This study is the first to suggest critical appraisal for domain identification and to use interview data to propose theoretical elaborations and interrelationships between domains.
Prescribing; Patient safety; Theoretical domains framework
The development and description of interventions to change professional practice are often limited by the lack of an explicit theoretical and empirical basis. We set out to develop an intervention to promote appropriate disclosure of a diagnosis of dementia based on theoretical and empirical work.
We identified three key disclosure behaviours: finding out what the patient already knows or suspects about their diagnosis; using the actual words 'dementia' or 'Alzheimer's disease' when talking to the patient; and exploring what the diagnosis means to the patient. We conducted a questionnaire survey of older peoples' mental health teams (MHTs) based upon theoretical constructs from the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) and Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) and used the findings to identify factors that predicted mental health professionals' intentions to perform each behaviour. We selected behaviour change techniques likely to alter these factors.
The change techniques selected were: persuasive communication to target subjective norm; behavioural modelling and graded tasks to target self-efficacy; persuasive communication to target attitude towards the use of explicit terminology when talking to the patient; and behavioural modelling by MHTs to target perceived behavioural control for finding out what the patient already knows or suspects and exploring what the diagnosis means to the patient. We operationalised these behaviour change techniques using an interactive 'pen and paper' intervention designed to increase intentions to perform the three target behaviours.
It is feasible to develop an intervention to change professional behaviour based upon theoretical models, empirical data and evidence based behaviour change techniques. The next step is to evaluate the effect of such an intervention on behavioural intention. We argue that this approach to development and reporting of interventions will contribute to the science of implementation by providing replicable interventions that illuminate the principles and processes underlying change.
Randomised trials of knowledge translation strategies for professional behaviour change can provide robust estimates of effectiveness, but offer little insight into the causal mechanisms by which any change is produced. To illustrate the applicability of causal methods within randomised trials, we undertook a theory-based process evaluation study within an implementation trial to explore whether the cognitions of primary care doctors' predicted their test requesting behaviours and, secondly, whether the trial results were mediated by the theoretical constructs.
The process evaluation comprised a cross-sectional questionnaire survey of a random 50% sample of the randomised groups of primary care practices in Grampian (NHS Grampian), UK, who took part in a trial of the effect of enhanced feedback and brief educational reminders on test requesting behaviour. The process evaluation was based upon the Theory of Planned Behaviour and focussed on three of the test requesting behaviours that were targeted in the trial -- ferritin, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and Helicobacter Pylori serology (HPS).
The questionnaire was completed by 131 primary care doctors (56%) from 42 (98%) of the sampled practices. Behavioural intention, attitude, and subjective norm were highly correlated for all the tests. There was no evidence that perceived behavioural control was correlated with any of the other measures. Simple linear regression analysis of the rate of test requests on minimum behavioural intentions had R2 of 11.1%, 12.5%, and 0.1% for ferritin, FSH, and HPS requesting, respectively. Mediational analysis showed that the trial results for ferritin and FSH were partially mediated (between 23% and 78% mediation) through intentions. The HPS trial result was not mediated through intention.
This study demonstrated that a theory-based process evaluation can provide useful information on causal mechanisms that aid not only interpretation of the trial but also inform future evaluations and intervention development.
The relationship between infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer is transforming cervical cancer prevention. HPV tests and vaccinations have recently become available. In Ireland, as elsewhere, primary care practitioners play a key role in prevention. ATHENS (A Trial of HPV Education and Support) aims to develop a theory-based intervention to support primary care practitioners in their HPV-related practice. This study, the first step in the intervention development process, aimed to: identify HPV-related clinical behaviours that the intervention will target; clarify general practitioners’ (GPs’) and practice nurses’ roles and responsibilities; and determine factors that potentially influence clinical behaviour. A secondary objective was to informally assess the utility of the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) in understanding clinical behaviours in an area with an evolving evidence-base.
In-depth semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with GPs and practice nurses. The topic guide, which contained open questions and HPV-related clinical scenarios, was developed through literature review and clinical experience. Interview transcripts were content-analysed using the TDF as the coding framework.
19 GPs and 14 practice nurses were interviewed. The major HPV-related clinical behaviours were: initiating a discussion about HPV infection with female patients; offering/recommending HPV vaccination to appropriate patients; and answering patients’ questions about HPV testing. While the responsibility for taking smears was considered a female role, both male and female practitioners dealt with HPV-related issues. All 12 theoretical domains arose in relation to HPV infection; the domains judged to be most important were: knowledge, emotion, social influences, beliefs about capabilities and beliefs about consequences. Eleven domains emerged in relation to HPV vaccination, with beliefs about consequences, social influences, knowledge and environmental context and resources judged to be the most important. Nine domains were relevant to HPV testing, with knowledge and beliefs about capabilities judged to be the most important.
The findings confirm the need for an intervention to support primary care practitioners around HPV and suggest it should target a range of theoretical domains. The TDF proved valuable in analysing qualitative data collected using a topic guide not specifically designed to capture TDF domains and understanding clinical behaviours in an area with an evolving evidence-base.
Cervical screening; HPV; Clinical behaviours; GPs; Practice nurses; Primary care; TDF; Knowledge; Emotion; Social influences; Beliefs about capabilities; Beliefs about consequences