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Developing habit-based health behaviour change interventions: Twenty-one questions to guide future research

Gardner, Benjamin and Arden, Madelynne and Brown, Daniel and Eves, Frank and Green, James and Hamilton, Kyra and Hankonen, Nelli and Inauen, Jennifer and Keller, Jan and Kwasnicka, Dominika and Labudek, Sarah and Marien, Hans and Masaryk, Radomir and McCleary, Nicola and Mullan, Barbara and Neter, Efrat and Orbell, Sheina and Potthoff, Sebastien and Lally, Philippa (2021) 'Developing habit-based health behaviour change interventions: Twenty-one questions to guide future research.' Psychology and Health. pp. 1-23. ISSN 0887-0446

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Abstract

Objective. Habitual behaviours are triggered automatically, with little conscious forethought. Theory suggests that making healthy behaviours habitual, and breaking the habits that underpin many ingrained unhealthy behaviours, promotes long-term behaviour change. This has prompted interest in incorporating habit formation and disruption strategies into behaviour change interventions. Yet, notable research gaps limit understanding of how to harness habit to change real-world behaviours. Methods. Discussions among health psychology researchers and practitioners, at the 2019 European Health Psychology Society 'Synergy Expert Meeting', generated pertinent questions to guide further research into habit and health behaviour. Results. In line with the four topics discussed at the meeting, 21 questions were identified, concerning: how habit manifests in health behaviour (3 questions); how to form healthy habits (5 questions); how to break unhealthy habits (4 questions); and how to develop and evaluate habit-based behaviour change interventions (9 questions). Conclusions. While our questions transcend research contexts, accumulating knowledge across studies of specific health behaviours, settings, and populations will build a broader understanding of habit change principles and how they may be embedded into interventions. We encourage researchers and practitioners to prioritise these questions, to further theory and evidence around how to create long-lasting health behaviour change.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: habit; automaticity; health behaviour; behaviour change; behaviour change techniques
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2021 17:59
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2022 12:33
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/31418

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