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Components of C, O and M behaviour influences


Capability refers to attributes people possess that allow them to carry out a behaviour.  Capability, together with opportunity makes a behaviour possible or facilitates it. Its two components are:

The physical attributes that someone possesses that allows them to carry out a behaviour.

Ask yourself – ‘do I have the physical ability to do this?’ E.g., Do I have the strength to carry medical supplies with me to a nearby ward?

The knowledge or skills that someone possesses to carry out a behaviour.

Ask yourself- ‘do I know how to do this or can I do this in the correct way?’ E.g., Have I been trained to administer a TB vaccine correctly?


Opportunity refers to the circumstances of an environment that make it possible for people to carry out a behaviour, meaning the external factors that make a behaviour more or less likely. Opportunity, together with capability, makes a behaviour possible or facilitates it. Its two components are:

Whether the context of someone’s working environment has the opportunities and resources available for them to carry out a behaviour.

Ask yourself- ‘do I have the time and resources I need to complete this behaviour?’ E.g., Reviewing all the patients in the ward each day requires two people and I’m usually on my own.

Whether there are opportunities for a behaviour in the social context of someone’s work (i.e. cultural and policy norms, and the social context of teams such as hierarchies, expected roles and relationships).

Ask yourself-‘does the team or organisation I work in make it possible to do this?’ E.g., Do I feel confident to challenge doctors on best practice practice decisions in a hierarchical team structure?


Motivation refers to any internal cognitive and emotional processes that influence our decision making and behaviour. Its two components are:

A decision that is outside of someone’s conscious awareness or is ‘automatic’. This includes things they do habitually without thinking or do as a reaction to prompts or emotions.

Ask yourself-‘is this behaviour an automatic reaction or habit?’ E.g., I put my seatbelt on each time I get in the car without thinking.

Someone’s conscious thoughts or beliefs about whether a behaviour is worth completing or whether the behaviour provides any benefit and how difficult or easy it may be.

Ask yourself-‘do I think this behaviour is a good idea or worthwhile?’ E.g., Should we change the location of the TB drop-in clinic to the building with better ventilation?

The infographic below summarises these concepts. For more information on the COM-B model and behaviour change, please read A guide on The COM-B Model of Behaviour.

Below is a short quiz to test your understanding of the specific influences behind behaviour. Click on the quiz when you are ready to start.