Special Issue "Health Behavior Change: Theories, Methods, and Interventions"

A special issue of Behavioral Sciences (ISSN 2076-328X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2022) | Viewed by 22874

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Martin S. Hagger
grade E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Department of Psychological Sciences, University of California, California, CA 92697, USA
2. Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, 40620 Jyväskylä, Finland
Interests: health psychology; behavior change; applied social psychology; motivation; social cognition
Dr. Kyra Hamilton
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, M24 2.09, Mount Gravatt Campus, Brisbane, Australia
Interests: understanding the multiple effects of motivational; volitional; automatic processes on health behaviour and applying integrated models of behaviour to understand human motivation and change
Ms. Susette Moyers
E-Mail Website
Editorial Manager
Department of Psychological Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 92697, USA
Interests: stress; health outcomes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Research has consistently linked the risk of noncommunicable, chronic illnesses and health conditions (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancers diabetes, obesity) with health-related behaviors (e.g., physical inactivity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet). Large-scale epidemiological research has suggested that these behaviors are consistently related to all-cause mortality. Alongside the considerable human cost of noncommunicable disease, there is also a substantive economic cost of treating and managing chronic illness. Analogously, regular participation in health-promoting behaviors is associated with adaptive health outcomes, including reduced chronic disease risk and other indices of good health. Governments and health organizations have developed guidelines for many of these behaviors, outlining the optimal level of participation in these behaviors for good health and minimizing illness risk. Such organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of ramping up efforts to develop effective large-scale behavioral interventions that are effective in promoting population-level participation in health behaviors. Such efforts are focused on prevention with the ultimate goal of reversing the increasing trends in the incidence of chronic disease globally.

Governments have therefore sought to engage scientists from various disciplines in behavioral sciences to develop effective behavior change strategies aimed at increasing participation in key health-related behaviors for illness prevention and health promotion. Researchers in many fields, particularly psychology, but also behavioral medicine, sociology, behavioral economics, and implementation science, are foremost in contribution to research efforts on behavior change. Scientists in these disciplines have been primarily responsible for conducting research and disseminating evidence on behavior change, ranging from basic theory-based research on determinants and processes to translational research in which evidence-based strategies are leveraged to change behavior. This research has applied scientific principles to study behavior change with the goal of informing the development of effective behavioral solutions to the global health problems caused by noncommunicable illness and conditions. These researchers are at the forefront of the newly emerging science of behavior change.

As the science of behavior change enters the mainstream, the importance of continued development of behavior change theories, methods, and interventions is essential toward progressing optimally effective solutions to the large-scale health problems caused by noncommunicable disease. The aim of this Special Issue of Behavioral Sciences is to showcase research in the emerging science of behavior change and provide a platform for researchers in multiple disciplines in the behavioral and social sciences to provide high-quality research that contributes to advancing knowledge on behavior change. The Special Issue will begin with a series of articles from leading theorists and researchers in the field of behavior change that not only summarize the current state of the science in specific subfields of behavior change but also outline contemporary advances and new ideas that are gaining traction among researchers in the field and inspiring new lines of research in the pursuit of effective health behavior interventions. Importantly, the major part of the Special Issue will comprise research articles disseminating the latest findings of studies on behavior change from teams across the world. Articles are expected to be at the forefront of innovation in terms of theory application, methodological advances, and intervention design and incrementally move knowledge on behavior change forward. The Special Issue will also provide a forum for scholarly debate on priority ‘hot’ topics in the field of behavior change.

Suggested topics for articles eligible for this Special Issue include but are not limited to:

  • Development and application of theories of behavior change
  • Policy and practice of behavior change in health contexts
  • Behavior change technique development
  • Mechanisms of action of behavior change interventions
  • Mediators and moderators of behavior change interventions
  • Intervention design in behavior change
  • Testing behavior change interventions
  • Development of innovative behavior change methods
  • Nudging and choice architecture
  • Translation of behavior change interventions to practice
  • Qualitative exploration of behavior change interventions
  • Developments in measurement in behavior change

Prof. Martin S. Hagger
Dr. Kyra Hamilton
Guest Editors

Ms. Susette Moyers
Editorial Manager

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Behavioral Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • health
  • Behavior Change
  • health theories
  • health intervention

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
Measuring “Nudgeability”: Development of a Scale on Susceptibility to Physical Activity Nudges among College Students
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(9), 318; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12090318 - 01 Sep 2022
Viewed by 474
Abstract
Background: The current college lifestyle create more opportunities for students to develop unhealthy behaviors, especially physical inactivity. Nudging could be an effective tool to improve physical activity behaviors by changing college settings. One-nudge-fits-all leads to ineffective nudges, so it is necessary to develop [...] Read more.
Background: The current college lifestyle create more opportunities for students to develop unhealthy behaviors, especially physical inactivity. Nudging could be an effective tool to improve physical activity behaviors by changing college settings. One-nudge-fits-all leads to ineffective nudges, so it is necessary to develop a reliable and valid instrument capable of measuring the “nudgeability” of physical activity nudges for college students, which is for a higher level of nudge efficacy. Method: Developing the College Physical Activity Nudges Susceptibility Scale (CPANSS) that integrated the nudge method with the Likert scale, which is the first attempt to measure the susceptibility to nudges directly by a scale. There are four steps for developing CPANSS, including Scale Dimensions, Item Generation, Exploratory Factor Analysis (n = 294), and Confirmatory Factor Analysis (n = 293) with appropriate procedures. Results: The five-factor 21-item CPANSS with good reliability and validity fitted the data reasonably well. Conclusion: The CPANSS was to provide a new tool for policymakers to design effective nudges in changing and promoting physical activity in college settings, and to provide a method for scholars to promote other healthy behaviors for different target groups. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior Change: Theories, Methods, and Interventions)
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Article
Can Personalization Persuade? Study of Notification Adaptation in Mobile Behavior Change Intervention Application
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(5), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12050116 - 19 Apr 2022
Viewed by 973
Abstract
The growing ubiquity of smartphones and the ease of creating and distributing applications render the mobile platform an attractive means for facilitating positive behavior change at scale. Within the smartphone as a behavior change support system, mobile notifications play a critical role as [...] Read more.
The growing ubiquity of smartphones and the ease of creating and distributing applications render the mobile platform an attractive means for facilitating positive behavior change at scale. Within the smartphone as a behavior change support system, mobile notifications play a critical role as they enable timely and relevant information distribution. In this paper we describe our preliminary investigation of the persuasiveness of mobile notifications delivered within a real-world behavior change intervention mobile app, which enabled users to set goals and define tasks related to those goals. The application aimed to motivate the users with notifications belonging to one of two groups—tailored and non-tailored, seeing them as sparks in the Fogg Behavior Model and personalizing them according to the users’ Big Five personality traits. Results indicate that customized messages may work for some individuals while working poorly for others. When analyzing users as a single group, no significant differences were observed, but when proceeding with the analysis on the individual level we found seven users whose personality traits notifications interact with in interesting ways. Our results offer two general insights: (1) Using personality-tailored messaging in a dynamic mobile domain as opposed to a static domain leads to different outcomes, and it seems that there is no one-to-one mapping between domains; (2) A major reason for most of our hypotheses being false may be that messages that are deemed as persuasive on their own are not what persuades people to perform an action. Unlike the clear-cut findings observed in other domains, we discover a rather nuanced relationship between the personalization and persuasiveness that calls for further exploration at the individual participant level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior Change: Theories, Methods, and Interventions)
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Article
Increasing Condom Use and STI Testing: Creating a Behaviourally Informed Sexual Healthcare Campaign Using the COM-B Model of Behaviour Change
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(4), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12040108 - 15 Apr 2022
Viewed by 1315
Abstract
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a major public health challenge. Although theoretically informed public health campaigns are more effective for changing behaviour, there is little evidence of their use when campaigns are commissioned to the commercial sector. This study describes the implementation of [...] Read more.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a major public health challenge. Although theoretically informed public health campaigns are more effective for changing behaviour, there is little evidence of their use when campaigns are commissioned to the commercial sector. This study describes the implementation of the COM-B model to a sexual health campaign that brought together expertise from academics, sexual healthcare, and marketing and creative professionals. Insights were gathered following a review of the relevant academic literature. Barriers and facilitators to condom use and STI testing were explored with the use of the COM-B model and the Behaviour Change Wheel in a workshop attended by academics, behavioural scientists, healthcare experts and creative designers. Feedback on the creative execution of the campaign was obtained from healthcare experts and via surveys. Barriers to psychological capability, automatic and reflective motivation, and social opportunity were identified as targets for the campaign, and creative solutions to these barriers were collaboratively devised. The final sexual health campaign was rated positively in its ability to change attitudes and intentions regarding the use of condoms and STI testing. This study describes the implementation of the COM-B model of behaviour change to a public sexual health campaign that brought together academics, public and commercial sector expertise. The barriers and facilitators identified in this collaborative process represent potential targets for future public health communication campaigns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior Change: Theories, Methods, and Interventions)
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Article
Exploration of Changes in Low-Income Latino Families’ Beliefs about Obesity, Nutrition, and Physical Activity: A Qualitative Post-Intervention Study
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(3), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12030073 - 09 Mar 2022
Viewed by 1273
Abstract
Objective: To investigate changes in beliefs around obesity, nutrition, and physical activity among low-income majority Latino families who participated in a community-based family-inclusive obesity intervention. Methods: Six focus groups were conducted with a predominately Latino low-income population, who completed the Healthy Living Program [...] Read more.
Objective: To investigate changes in beliefs around obesity, nutrition, and physical activity among low-income majority Latino families who participated in a community-based family-inclusive obesity intervention. Methods: Six focus groups were conducted with a predominately Latino low-income population, who completed the Healthy Living Program (HeLP). Two groups were conducted in English and four groups were conducted in Spanish, and were recorded, translated, transcribed, and analyzed for thematic content. Two coders independently coded transcripts then reflexive team analysis with three members was used to reach consensus. Results: Thirty-seven caregivers representing thirty-three families participated in focus groups. A number of themes emerged around changes in beliefs about obesity, nutrition, and physical activity (PA) as a result of the HeLP curriculum. Regarding obesity, the themes that emerged focused on the acceptability of children being overweight and the importance of addressing weight at an early age. Changes in beliefs regarding nutrition emerged, noting changes in the use of food as a reward, the multiple benefits of a healthy diet, and for some participants change in their beliefs around the adaptability of traditional foods and habits. Regarding physical activity, themes emerged around the difficulty of engaging in PA due to unsafe conditions and finding creative indoor and outdoor activities with whole family participation and becoming aware of the benefits of PA. Conclusions: Parental changes in beliefs about obesity, nutrition, and physical activity as a result of a family-inclusive weight management program in a population of low-income predominately Latino families can aid and inform the development of future weight management programs for this population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior Change: Theories, Methods, and Interventions)
Article
“The Best Laid Plans”: Do Individual Differences in Planfulness Moderate Effects of Implementation Intention Interventions?
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(2), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12020047 - 14 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1139
Abstract
While there is good evidence supporting the positive effect of planning strategies like implementation intentions on the relationship between intention and behavior, there is less evidence on the moderating role of individual differences in planning capacity on this effect. This study aimed to [...] Read more.
While there is good evidence supporting the positive effect of planning strategies like implementation intentions on the relationship between intention and behavior, there is less evidence on the moderating role of individual differences in planning capacity on this effect. This study aimed to examine the role of individual differences in planfulness on the effect of planning strategies on the intention–behavior gap. Specifically, this study investigated the influence of planfulness on the effectiveness of implementation intentions on goal-directed behavior using an experimental design. Undergraduate university students (N = 142) with high and low levels of planfulness based on a priori scores on a planfulness measure were randomized to either a planning (implementation intention) or familiarization (control) condition prior to completing a computerized go no-go task. We predicted that individuals reporting low levels of planfulness would be more effective in executing goal-directed behavior when prompted to form an implementation intention compared to individuals who do not receive a prompt. Additionally, we predicted that individuals reporting high planfulness would be equally effective in enacting goal-directed behaviour regardless of whether they formed an implementation intention. The results revealed no main or interaction effects of implementation intention manipulation and planfulness on task reaction times. The current results do not provide support for the moderating effect of planfulness on the implementation effect. The findings of this study were inconsistent with previous literature. This research has implications for the effectiveness of implementation intentions, as well as opportunities for further replication in a novel research area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior Change: Theories, Methods, and Interventions)
Article
A Dual-Process Model Applied to Two Health-Promoting Nutrition Behaviours
Behav. Sci. 2021, 11(12), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs11120170 - 08 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1269
Abstract
We tested a dual process model incorporating constructs that reflect both performing the target behaviour (behaviour directed habit) and habits that run counter to the target behaviour (opposing behaviour habit) in accounting for variance in two health behaviours: eating the recommended serves of [...] Read more.
We tested a dual process model incorporating constructs that reflect both performing the target behaviour (behaviour directed habit) and habits that run counter to the target behaviour (opposing behaviour habit) in accounting for variance in two health behaviours: eating the recommended serves of fruits and vegetables a day and restricting sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. A prospective correlational design with two waves of data collection separated by one week was adopted. Participants (N = 606) comprising middle school students (n = 266) and university students (n = 340) completed an initial survey comprising self-report measures of past behaviour, intention, and habit to perform the target behaviour and habits that run counter to the target behaviour. One week later, participants (N = 414) completed a self-reported measure of behaviour. Results revealed that behaviour directed habits predicted fruit and vegetable consumption in both samples, while opposing behaviour habits predicted restriction of sugar-sweetened beverages in the middle-school sample only, with a moderating effect also observed. Current findings indicate that habits specifying avoidance of the target behaviour did not predict future behaviour. However, the moderating effect observed provides preliminary evidence that strong habits to perform a behaviour may override habit to avoid the behaviour. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior Change: Theories, Methods, and Interventions)
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Article
Beliefs and Experiences of Individuals Following a Zero-Carb Diet
Behav. Sci. 2021, 11(12), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs11120161 - 23 Nov 2021
Viewed by 2417
Abstract
The adoption of carbohydrate-restrictive diets to improve health is increasing in popularity, but there is a dearth of research on individuals who choose to severely restrict or entirely exclude carbohydrates. The present study investigated the beliefs and experiences of individuals following a diet [...] Read more.
The adoption of carbohydrate-restrictive diets to improve health is increasing in popularity, but there is a dearth of research on individuals who choose to severely restrict or entirely exclude carbohydrates. The present study investigated the beliefs and experiences of individuals following a diet that severely limits, or entirely excludes, dietary carbohydrates, colloquially known as a ‘zero-carb’ diet, for at least 6 months. Zero-carb dieters (n = 170) recruited via a social networking site completed an online qualitative survey prompting them to discuss their motives, rationale, and experiences of following a low-carb diet. Transcripts of participants’ responses were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Results revealed that participants’ decision to follow a zero-carb diet was driven by health concerns and benefits. Participants expressed a strong social identity and belongingness to online zero-carb communities. Participants reported strong intentions to follow the diet indefinitely. Shortcomings of the diet centered on experienced stigma; lack of support from healthcare providers and significant others; limited access to, and high cost of, foods; and limited scientific data on the diet. Further research into the benefits and shortcomings of zero-carb diets across settings and populations is warranted, and guidelines for healthcare professionals on how to support individuals following a zero-carb diet are needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior Change: Theories, Methods, and Interventions)
Article
Studying Behaviour Change Mechanisms under Complexity
Behav. Sci. 2021, 11(5), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs11050077 - 14 May 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 5169
Abstract
Understanding the mechanisms underlying the effects of behaviour change interventions is vital for accumulating valid scientific evidence, and useful to informing practice and policy-making across multiple domains. Traditional approaches to such evaluations have applied study designs and statistical models, which implicitly assume that [...] Read more.
Understanding the mechanisms underlying the effects of behaviour change interventions is vital for accumulating valid scientific evidence, and useful to informing practice and policy-making across multiple domains. Traditional approaches to such evaluations have applied study designs and statistical models, which implicitly assume that change is linear, constant and caused by independent influences on behaviour (such as behaviour change techniques). This article illustrates limitations of these standard tools, and considers the benefits of adopting a complex adaptive systems approach to behaviour change research. It (1) outlines the complexity of behaviours and behaviour change interventions; (2) introduces readers to some key features of complex systems and how these relate to human behaviour change; and (3) provides suggestions for how researchers can better account for implications of complexity in analysing change mechanisms. We focus on three common features of complex systems (i.e., interconnectedness, non-ergodicity and non-linearity), and introduce Recurrence Analysis, a method for non-linear time series analysis which is able to quantify complex dynamics. The supplemental website provides exemplifying code and data for practical analysis applications. The complex adaptive systems approach can complement traditional investigations by opening up novel avenues for understanding and theorising about the dynamics of behaviour change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior Change: Theories, Methods, and Interventions)
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Article
Social Cognition and Socioecological Predictors of Home-Based Physical Activity Intentions, Planning, and Habits during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Behav. Sci. 2020, 10(9), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs10090133 - 31 Aug 2020
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 4722
Abstract
‘Shelter in place’ and ‘lockdown’ orders implemented to minimize the spread of COVID-19 have reduced opportunities to be physically active. For many, the home environment emerged as the only viable option to participate in physical activity. Previous research suggests that availability of exercise [...] Read more.
‘Shelter in place’ and ‘lockdown’ orders implemented to minimize the spread of COVID-19 have reduced opportunities to be physically active. For many, the home environment emerged as the only viable option to participate in physical activity. Previous research suggests that availability of exercise equipment functions as a determinant of home-based physical activity participation among the general adult population. The purpose of this study was to use a socioecological framework to investigate how the availability of exercise equipment at home predicts behavioral decisions, namely, intention, planning, and habits with respect to participation in physical activity. Participants (n = 429) were adults recruited in U.S. states subject to lockdown orders during the pandemic who completed measures online. A structural equation model indicated that availability of cardiovascular and strength training equipment predicted physical activity planning. Social cognition constructs mediated the relationship between each type of exercise equipment and intentions. Autonomous motivation and perceived behavioral control were found to mediate the relationship between each type of exercise equipment and habit. The availability of large cardiovascular and strength training equipment demonstrated significant predictive effects with intention, planning, habit, and autonomous motivation. Facilitating these constructs for home-based physical activity interventions could be efficacious for promoting physical activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior Change: Theories, Methods, and Interventions)
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Review

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Review
Public Service Motivation and Determining Factors to Attract and Retain Health Professionals in the Public Sector: A Systematic Review
Behav. Sci. 2022, 12(4), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12040095 - 29 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1396
Abstract
(1) Background: The motivational determinants of health professionals to choose and remain in the public sector have been increasingly addressed, including the customized approach of Public Service Motivation (PSM). However, to date, no systematic research overview has been performed in this domain, leaving [...] Read more.
(1) Background: The motivational determinants of health professionals to choose and remain in the public sector have been increasingly addressed, including the customized approach of Public Service Motivation (PSM). However, to date, no systematic research overview has been performed in this domain, leaving the body of literature unstructured. This article fills this gap by assessing the motivational factors of choice for the public sector in the health field, and the conceptual and methodological trends of this research stream. (2) Methods: This study follows the PRISMA protocol to ascertain patterns in past research and inform researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. Eighty-nine documents published between 1998 and 2021 were retained after selecting them according to their theme and outlined goals. (3) Results: Common motivational determinants are remuneration, available resources, work conditions, and frequency of contact and interaction with patients. The PSM construct and scale are often employed as main frameworks, but there is also a concern in assessing motivation drawing on psychological constructs that reflect the challenging line of work and environment that is health care, such as presenteeism, stress, and perception of hindrances. (4) Conclusions: By focusing on health professionals’ motivation, this study contributes to a timely systematization in challenging times for health institutions and their human resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior Change: Theories, Methods, and Interventions)
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