How-Tos, Think pieces

Want to know how to change behaviour?

Well, it's not always easy, but thankfully there's a tool to help with that . . .

Post by Research Fellow, Fraser Tull

In 2011, Susan Michie and colleagues at University College London introduced a framework to help researchers and practitioners systematically tackle their behaviour change problem. They called it, the Behaviour Change Wheel.

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They recognised that interventionists (both researcher and practitioner) often come to a solution without understanding why the behaviour occurs (or doesn’t occur) and they fail to consider the full range of intervention options.


Start with the diagnosis

In response, they introduced the COM-B model of behaviour (centre of the wheel), where behaviour is seen to depend on an individuals capability (e.g., skills, knowledge), motivation (e.g., beliefs, habits, emotions) and opportunity (e.g., structural barriers).

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By formulating a behavioural diagnosis (i.e., identifying the factors underlying the behaviour), you can develop an appropriate course of treatment, just as you’d hope your doctor will do before she starts cutting!

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Surrounding the COM-B model is a layer of nine intervention functions to choose from. They can then be used to address deficits in (one or more) of capability, opportunity or motivation.

Simply choose the functions that are relevant to your diagnosis.

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Then the outer layer, the rim of the wheel, identifies seven types of policy that can be used to deliver the intervention functions.


Simply choose the policy categories that are relevant to your selected intervention functions.

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The full list

Next, they developed an exhaustive list of behaviour change techniques, along with their definitions to help the rest of us consider the full range of intervention options available.


These are a must read for anyone considering a behaviour change campaign and a good place to build your intervention toolbox!

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Can I really use it?

Throughout this process, you’re probably wondering “what about practical considerations?” Don’t worry, they have that covered too.


They developed the APEASE criteria: Affordability, Practicality, Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, Acceptability, Side-effects/safety, and Equity.


Prior to implementing an intervention, intervention designers can use the criteria to determine which intervention functions, policy categories, behaviour change techniques and modes of delivery are most appropriate for their context and therefore most likely to be implemented and have an impact.


For more

If you’re interested in learning more about the Behaviour Change Wheel, we recommend reading this document as it clearly outlines the steps involved in using the framework.


You can also go to the official website, see how researchers have used the framework (e.g., infection prevention), see new additions to the framework (e.g., TDF and MoA) and you can watch Susan in action when we hosted her back in 2012!