The importance of behaviour change to improving health is demonstrated by increasing investment by funding bodies in developing and evaluating complex interventions to change population, patient and practitioner behaviours. The development of effective interventions is hampered by the absence of a nomenclature to specify and report their content. This limits the possibility of replicating effective interventions, synthesising evidence, and understanding the causal mechanisms underlying behaviour change. In contrast, biomedical interventions are precisely specified, e.g. the pharmacological "ingredients" of prescribed drugs, their dose and frequency of administration. For most complex interventions, the precise "ingredients" are unknown; descriptions e.g. "behavioural counselling" can mean different things to different researchers or implementers. The lack of a method for specifying complex interventions undermines the precision of syntheses of evidence of effectiveness, posing a problem for secondary, as well as primary, research. This project will develop a reliable method of specifying intervention components ("techniques") aimed at changing behaviour. This will strengthen the scientific basis for developing, evaluating and reporting complex interventions. The research builds on extensive pilot work, an identified multidisciplinary need for such a method and a large team of collaborators keen to participate in its development. Dissemination throughout the project will be by stakeholder meetings, targeted multidisciplinary workshops, conference presentations, journal publication and an interactive web-based platform.


Health Services Research Unit;