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Using theories of behaviour change to inform interventions for addictive behaviours

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Falko Sniehotta


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Aims This paper reviews a set of theories of behaviour change that are used outside the field of addiction and considers their relevance for this field. Methods Ten theories are reviewed in terms of (i) the main tenets of each theory, (ii) the implications of the theory for promoting change in addictive behaviours and (iii) studies in the field of addiction that have used the theory. An augmented feedback loop model based on Control Theory is used to organize the theories and to show how different interventions might achieve behaviour change. Results Briefly, each theory provided the following recommendations for intervention: Control Theory: prompt behavioural monitoring, Goal-Setting Theory: set specific and challenging goals, Model of Action Phases: form 'implementation intentions', Strength Model of Self-Control: bolster self-control resources, Social Cognition Models (Protection Motivation Theory, Theory of Planned Behaviour, Health Belief Model): modify relevant cognitions, Elaboration Likelihood Model: consider targets' motivation and ability to process information, Prototype Willingness Model: change perceptions of the prototypical person who engages in behaviour and Social Cognitive Theory: modify self-efficacy. Conclusions There are a range of theories in the field of behaviour change that can be applied usefully to addiction, each one pointing to a different set of modifiable determinants and/or behaviour change techniques. Studies reporting interventions should describe theoretical basis, behaviour change techniques and mode of delivery accurately so that effective interventions can be understood and replicated.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Webb TL, Sniehotta FF, Michie S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Addiction

Year: 2010

Volume: 105

Issue: 11

Pages: 1879-1892

Print publication date: 29/07/2010

ISSN (print): 0965-2140

ISSN (electronic): 1360-0443

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03028.x


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Funder referenceFunder name
G0900686Medical Research Council