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Using the Behaviour Change Wheel

Now that we understand what defines behaviour, behaviour change and what influences behaviour in practice, we can begin to think about how we can change behaviour for the better using behaviour change interventions.

Behaviour change interventions are a set of coordinated actions and plans designed to change behaviour. Once we’ve defined the behavioural target for change, we can use further theory to help us design an intervention, using the Behaviour Change Wheel.

The Behaviour Change Wheel was developed as a framework to allow us to match influences of behaviour: capability, opportunity and motivation, to intervention types and designs. With the COM-B framework at its heart, the Behaviour Change Wheel includes the sources of behaviour, intervention functions and policy categories. This is summarised in the infographic below.

Adapted from: Michie, S. et al., 2011. The behaviour change wheel: A new method for characterising and designing behaviour change interventions.

Sources of behaviour

The green section illustrates the influences of behaviour we defined in the previous module: capability, opportunity and motivation.

Intervention functions

Behaviour change interventions can be implemented in a number of ways. Once we’ve defined the behaviour we want to change and what influences that behaviour, we can match these to intervention designs. The red section illustrates this and allows us to match intervention design to the behavioural influence. Each of the intervention functions has the potential to target one (or more) behavioural influences (COM-B).

Let’s look at this in more detail in the table below.

Policy categories

The grey section illustrates seven policy categories that could be used to enable interventions designed to influence behaviour. Policy and governmental influences often affect a healthcare professional’s behaviours and can therefore be used to enable behaviour change interventions. For example, interventions can include changes at the population level, such as updating prescribing guidelines or providing funding for vaccinations.

For more information on the use of behavioural science and using the behaviour change wheel, please read Improving health and wellbeing: A guide to using behavioural science in policy and practice.

This optional video offers a 15 minute introduction to the Behaviour Change Wheel.

When you are ready, click below to test your knowledge.