Behaviour Change

What is Behaviour Change research?

The majority of primary care research involves behaviour change. To improve healthcare we need to support people to adopt new ways of doing things. Often this involves supporting patients to make changes to improve or maintain their health but it can also include supporting healthcare professionals to improve the way they deliver care. Examples of behaviour change research include supporting:

  • patients to adhere to treatments
  • healthcare professionals to adopt shared decision making
  • patients to manage long-term conditions
  • healthcare professionals to make changes to their prescribing or communication behaviours
  • people to adopt healthier lifestyles
  • healthcare professionals to refer patients to a new service

This SIG is relevant to everyone interested in modifying behaviours related to health, especially those involved in the development, evaluation or implementation of health interventions with behavioural components. We expect our membership to consist of clinical and non-clinical researchers to share expertise from multiple disciplines.

What does the SIG do?

The principal aim of the Behaviour Change SIG is to promote research incorporating health behaviour change in primary care.


  • To identify researchers with an interest in primary care research addressing behaviour change
  • To share knowledge of current applications of behaviour change (theory) in primary care interventions
  • To encourage networking between clinical and non-clinical members in order to share expertise from various disciplines (e.g. medicine, psychology, sociology).
  • To identify and share knowledge of sources of funding for health behaviour change research in primary care
  • To encourage collaboration and applications for grant funding for research in primary care behaviour change

Contacts: Dr Sarah Tonkin-Crine & Dr Ingrid Muller

Recent activities

  • We hosted a workshop in May 2022 on using the Person-Based Approach for developing behavioural interventions in primary care. See for more detail. The workshop was attended by 33 primary care researchers from a wide range of disciplines including clinicians and non-clinicians. We included breakout sessions to foster discussion and networking between researchers.
  • We developed a database of behaviour change resources and publications, with input from SIG members, to provide an easily accessible resource for primary care researchers new to behaviour change approaches. This was distributed to SIG members.
  • We established a relationship with the newly formed NIHR Cross-Health Protection Research Unit (HPRUs) Behavioural Science Network. This is a network between 12 NIHR HPRUs in England which are centres of excellence in multidisciplinary health protection research. Links with this network enable us to identify new behaviour change research relevant to primary care and to access a network of behaviour change researchers beyond primary care who are developing new methods in the field.
  • We held a Twitterfest alongside the national SAPC conference in 2020 to promote the behaviour change research being conducted in Primary Care. This highlighted the range of current research utilising behaviour change, including intervention focuses on clinicians as well as patients, and targeting a variety of clinical conditions.

Older activities

Our first SIG meeting was held at the SAPC Annual Scientific Meeting in Dublin in July 2016.

A workshop on how to develop behaviour change interventions was held in October 2016 at the University of Southampton. Read more about the workshop