Incorporating behaviour change into healthcare interventions

The fifth Bump2Baby and Me Implementation Forum “Behaviour change – it’s more than just willpower” took place on Thursday 23rd November 2023. The forum featured presentations from guest speaker Dr Lucy Porter from the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London along with members of the Bump2Baby and Me Project team.

A good mix of people joined from across the world, including those from healthcare, policymakers, industry, universities, and the charity sector.

“Human behaviour is at the centre of all of the greatest challenges facing society today.”

Dr Porter opened the forum with an introduction to the science of behaviour change. She explained that it is important to use a scientific and systematic approach to behaviour change to ensure we avoid bias and missed opportunities. She then took the audience through five principles of behaviour change:

  • Keep an open mind e.g., don’t have preconceived ideas or make assumptions.
  • Consider who needs to change which behaviour e.g., look at the bigger picture and not just the individuals.
  • Consider the full range of influences on behaviour e.g., the opportunity or the environment and not just motivation and knowledge.
  • Ensure that interventions target those influences e.g., use models to work out what needs to change and design the intervention around those.
  • Evaluate beyond effectiveness e.g., how interventions are used and if they are acceptable.

Project Coordinator, Professor Sharleen O’Reilly gave an update on the progress of the Bump2Baby and Me Project and explained partners were now focusing on analysing the data collected during the project’s trial. Results will be available during 2024.

This was followed by a presentation from Katie Angotti, Service Manager at Liva Healthcare, about how behaviour change science was integrated into the digital health coaching in the project. Katie Henry, a health coach from Liva who worked with the Dublin participants in the Bump2Baby and Me trial, shared a few examples of behaviour change in practice in the project. Lastly, Elena Rey Velasco, an industrial PhD student with Liva, explained her research which focuses on digital empathy in action. Using the health coaching interactions within the project, she highlighted examples of empathy to build positive lifestyle changes.

Unpacking Motivation: The Key to Sustainable Habits is a recent blog written by Elena and covers some similar points from her presentation.

Overall, the forum showed that designing effective behaviour-change-driven healthcare interventions is not easy and should consider a wide number of factors beyond the control of the individual, emphasising “it’s more than just willpower”.

A recording of the forum is available below. To register your interest in our final forum, taking place on Thursday 13th June 2024, or our Implementation Workshops please contact Kate Wall.