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Changing behaviour, 'more or less': do implementation and de-implementation interventions include different behaviour change techniques?

Patey, A. M., Grimshaw, J. M. & Francis, J. J. ORCID: 0000-0001-5784-8895 (2021). Changing behaviour, 'more or less': do implementation and de-implementation interventions include different behaviour change techniques?. Implementation Science, 16(1), 20. doi: 10.1186/s13012-021-01089-0


Decreasing ineffective or harmful healthcare practices (de-implementation) may require different approaches than those used to promote uptake of effective practices (implementation). Few psychological theories differentiate between processes involved in decreasing, versus increasing, behaviour. However, it is unknown whether implementation and de-implementation interventions already use different approaches. We used the behaviour change technique (BCT) taxonomy (version 1) (which includes 93 BCTs organised into 12 groupings) to investigate whether implementation and de-implementation interventions for clinician behaviour change use different BCTs.

Intervention descriptions in 181 articles from three systematic reviews in the Cochrane Library were coded for (a) implementation versus de-implementation and (b) intervention content (BCTs) using the BCT taxonomy (v1). BCT frequencies were calculated and compared using Pearson’s chi-squared (χ2), Yates’ continuity correction and Fisher’s exact test, where appropriate. Identified BCTs were ranked according to frequency and rankings for de-implementation versus implementation interventions were compared and described.

Twenty-nine and 25 BCTs were identified in implementation and de-implementation interventions respectively. Feedback on behaviour was identified more frequently in implementation than de-implementation (Χ2(2, n=178) = 15.693, p = .000057). Three BCTs were identified more frequently in de-implementation than implementation: Behaviour substitution (Χ2(2, n=178) = 14.561, p = .0001; Yates’ continuity correction); Monitoring of behaviour by others without feedback (Χ2(2, n=178) = 16.187, p = .000057; Yates’ continuity correction); and Restructuring social environment (p = .000273; Fisher’s 2-sided exact test).

There were some significant differences between BCTs reported in implementation and de-implementation interventions suggesting that researchers may have implicit theories about different BCTs required for de-implementation and implementation. These findings do not imply that the BCTs identified as targeting implementation or de-implementation are effective, rather simply that they were more frequently used. These findings require replication for a wider range of clinical behaviours. The continued accumulation of additional knowledge and evidence into whether implementation and de-implementation is different will serve to better inform researchers and, subsequently, improve methods for intervention design.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: De-implementation versus implementation, Behaviour change, Intervention content, Techniques, Taxonomy, Intervention design
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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