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Using the COM-B framework for behaviour change in healthcare practice

In any given situation, many different behaviours are occurring at once. For example, in a healthcare setting, behaviours are displayed by:

Every day healthcare professionals make decisions and behave in ways that impact the health of their patients. This may seem overwhelming when thinking about what needs to change, nevertheless, the number of behaviours we encounter merely provides us with more opportunity for implementing behaviour change interventions. To understand what needs to change, we can use behavioural science theory.

This theory uses a combination of studies to provide a basis for understanding individual behaviour. It takes into account psychological, sociological and cultural factors. In particular, it is used to understand an individual’s motivation by considering their social needs, conflicting factors and realisation of their own potential.

We will now introduce the first case study in this module, click on the drop down below labelled 'Case study I' to read through it.

Case Study I

Read through the scenario below and as you go through this module, think about the questions posed. We will revisit them at the end of the module.

Patients in hospital may require short-term prescriptions for antibiotics. There are a few patients that have been on long-term antibiotics in hospital. As a healthcare professional, you notice that the doctors are requesting medicines that should only be used in the short-term, without review. You are aware that this may not be in the best interest of the patient and would require a change in practice. This potential change in practice can be addressed behaviourally.

As you progress through the module, consider:

  • What behaviour(s) may need to change?
  • What might be the barriers to change?