Developing habit-based health behaviour change interventions: Twenty-one questions to guide future research

Article


Gardner, Benjamin, Arden, Madelynne A., Brown, Daniel, Eves, Frank F., Green, James, Hamilton, Kyra, Hankonen, Nelli, Inauen, Jennifer, Keller, Jan, Kwasnicka, Dominika, Labudek, Sarah, Marien, Hans, Masaryk, Radomír, McCleary, Nicola, Mullan, Barbara A., Neter, Efrat, Orbell, Sheina, Potthoff, Sebastian and Lally, Phillippa. 2023. "Developing habit-based health behaviour change interventions: Twenty-one questions to guide future research." Psychology and Health: an international journal. 38 (4), pp. 518-540. https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2021.2003362
Article Title

Developing habit-based health behaviour change interventions: Twenty-one questions to guide future research

ERA Journal ID6606
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsGardner, Benjamin, Arden, Madelynne A., Brown, Daniel, Eves, Frank F., Green, James, Hamilton, Kyra, Hankonen, Nelli, Inauen, Jennifer, Keller, Jan, Kwasnicka, Dominika, Labudek, Sarah, Marien, Hans, Masaryk, Radomír, McCleary, Nicola, Mullan, Barbara A., Neter, Efrat, Orbell, Sheina, Potthoff, Sebastian and Lally, Phillippa
Journal TitlePsychology and Health: an international journal
Journal Citation38 (4), pp. 518-540
Number of Pages23
Year2023
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN0887-0446
1476-8321
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2021.2003362
Web Address (URL)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08870446.2021.2003362
Abstract

Objective
Habitual behaviours are triggered automatically, with little conscious forethought. Theory suggests that making healthy behaviours habitual, and breaking the habits that underpin many ingrained unhealthy behaviours, promotes long-term behaviour change. This has prompted interest in incorporating habit formation and disruption strategies into behaviour change interventions. Yet, notable research gaps limit understanding of how to harness habit to change real-world behaviours.

Methods
Discussions among health psychology researchers and practitioners, at the 2019 European Health Psychology Society ‘Synergy Expert Meeting’, generated pertinent questions to guide further research into habit and health behaviour.

Results
In line with the four topics discussed at the meeting, 21 questions were identified, concerning: how habit manifests in health behaviour (3 questions); how to form healthy habits (5 questions); how to break unhealthy habits (4 questions); and how to develop and evaluate habit-based behaviour change interventions (9 questions).

Conclusions
While our questions transcend research contexts, accumulating knowledge across studies of specific health behaviours, settings, and populations will build a broader understanding of habit change principles and how they may be embedded into interventions. We encourage researchers and practitioners to prioritise these questions, to further theory and evidence around how to create long-lasting health behaviour change.

KeywordsHabit; automaticity; health behaviour; behaviour change; techniques
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020520304. Health psychology
520505. Social psychology
Byline AffiliationsKing’s College London, United Kingdom
Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom
Griffith University
University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
University of Limerick, Ireland
University of Helsinki, Finland
University of Bern, Switzerland
Free University of Berlin, Germany
SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland
University of Melbourne
Heidelberg University, Germany
Utrecht University, Netherlands
Comenius University Bratislava, Slovakia
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Canada
University of Ottawa, Canada
Curtin University
Ruppin Academic Center, Israel
University of Essex, United Kingdom
Northumbria University, United Kingdom
University College London, United Kingdom
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