To begin the behaviour change process, we need to break down the behaviour we want to change. To do this we need to define: the location or context of where and when the behaviour occurs, the individual, group or population involved in the behaviour and what behaviour is occurring. This is called thinking behaviourally.
We can do this using the following set of prompts:
Have a look at the example below of how to define a situation behaviourally.
The pharmacist dispenses antibiotics for a wound infection for a patient in the community after receiving a prescription for a wound infection.
The pharmacist (WHO) dispenses antibiotics for a wound infection (WHAT) for a patient (WHOM) in the community (WHERE) after receiving a prescription (WHEN).
Now see if you can do the same for the following example:
In a post-surgical ward, a prescriber changes a patient’s antibiotics from IV antibiotics to oral antibiotics when they are able to swallow on their own.
Click below to reveal the answer.
In a post-surgical ward (WHERE), a prescriber (WHO) changes a patient’s (WHOM) antibiotics from IV antibiotics to oral antibiotics (WHAT) when they are able to swallow on their own (WHEN).
But why do we need to think behaviourally?
Behaviours are best understood in the context they occur. In healthcare, behaviours are delivered by HCPs in the context of complex, time and resource-constrained settings, where competing priorities influence the feasibility of delivering optimal care. Defining behaviours allows us to start to think about what might be influencing them.
Using the example from the task above, the behaviour of the prescriber could be influenced by several factors, such as:
Understanding what influences these behaviours helps to unpack their complexity and clarifies the reasoning behind behaviours in healthcare settings. It provides an opportunity for theory-informed investigation of the influences of each behaviour to inform the development of meaningful interventions.