The refinement of a taxonomy of techniques to change behaviour

Stefanie Williams, David P. French, F.F. Sniehotta, A. Bishop, S. Michie

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


    Background: Standardised definitions of the techniques included in behaviour change interventions are required to allow identification of which techniques contribute to intervention effectiveness. A standardised taxonomy to classify behaviour change techniques has been developed (Abraham & Michie, 2008). The present research aimed to refine the taxonomy further, to improve its comprehensiveness, reliability and ease of use. Methods: The taxonomy was used to code intervention descriptions in three systematic reviews by three separate groups, concerning identifying BCTs for: (a) smoking, and increasing healthy eating and physical activity, (b) behavioural interventions for obese adults, (c) increasing self-efficacy for physical activity. Each review identified problems with its use, including a lack of clarity for certain techniques and their definitions, overlap between categories and missing categories. This process of refinement was repeated iteratively by each review group, by coding intervention descriptions, discussing ambiguities and usability problems, and revising technique descriptions. Findings: We have refined the taxonomy; improving labels and definitions, and increasing the coding frame from 26 techniques to 40 techniques. Coding of intervention descriptions using later versions of the taxonomy yielded better inter-rater reliability than those found using the original version. Discussion: We have produced an improved version of the taxonomy by resolving the problems encountered when attempting to use it in three reviews and developing the taxonomy to become more comprehensive. We recommend that researchers and other academics use this version of the taxonomy to categorise behaviour change interventions, and take a similar approach to its further development.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2009
    EventBritish Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Conference - Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
    Duration: 9 Sept 200911 Sept 2009


    ConferenceBritish Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

    Bibliographical note

    Poster presented at the 2009 British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference, held 09-11 September 2009, Aston University, Birmingham, UK. Please note Stephanie Williams was using the surname Ashford at the time of publication.


    • behaviour change techniques
    • health psychology
    • taxonomy


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