Behavior Change Training for Health Professionals: Evaluation of a 2-Hour Workshop

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JMIR Formative Research


Background: Rates of noncommunicable diseases continue to rise worldwide. Many of these diseases are a result of engaging in risk behaviors. Without lifestyle and behavioral intervention, noncommunicable diseases can worsen and develop into more debilitating diseases. Behavioral interventions are an effective strategy to reduce the burden of disease. Behavior change techniques can be described as the "active ingredients"in behavior change and address the components that need to be altered in order for the target behavior to change. Health professionals, such as pharmacists and nurses, can engage in opportunistic behavior change with their patients, to encourage positive health behaviors. Objective: We aimed to develop, implement, and evaluate a behavior change workshop targeted at health professionals in Australia, with the goal of increasing knowledge of behavior change techniques and psychological variables. Methods: A prospective study design was used to develop and evaluate a 2-hour behavior change workshop targeted at health professionals. The workshop was developed based on the Capability, Opportunity, Motivation, and Behavior Model and had five core objectives: (1) to detail the role of health professionals in delivering optimal care, (2) to demonstrate opportunities to change behavior, (3) to describe principles of behavior change, (4) to explain behavior change techniques, and (5) to determine the most appropriate behavior change techniques to use and when to use them. A total of 10 workshops were conducted. To evaluate the workshops and identify any potential long-term changes in behavior, we collected pre- and postworkshop data on knowledge and psychological constructs from the attendees. Results: A final sample of 41 health professionals comprising general practitioners, nurses, and pharmacists completed the preand postworkshop surveys. Following the workshops, there were significant improvements in knowledge of behavior change techniques (t40=-5.27, P<.001), subjective norms (t40=-3.49, P=.001), descriptive norms (t40=-3.65, P<.001), perceived behavioral control (t40=-3.30, P=.002), and intention (t36=-3.32, P=.002); each had a large effect size. There was no significant difference in postworkshop attitude (t40=0.78, P=.44). The participants also found the workshops to be highly acceptable. Conclusions: A 2-hour, theoretically informed workshop designed to facilitate the use of behavior change techniques by health professionals was shown to be largely effective. The workshops resulted in increases in knowledge, descriptive and subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, and intention, but not in attitude. The intervention was also shown to be highly acceptable, with the large majority of participants deeming the intervention to be needed, useful, appropriate, and applicable, as well as interesting and worth their time. Future research should examine the lasting impacts of the workshop on health professionals' practices.

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