Accounting for the role of habit in behavioural strategies for injury prevention

Int J Inj Contr Saf Promot. 2008 Mar;15(1):33-40. doi: 10.1080/17457300701794253.


The limited success of behavioural strategies in injury prevention has been attributed to failure to properly apply behaviour change models to intervention design and the explanation of safety behaviours. However, this paper contends that many health behaviour change interventions do not succeed because they fail to take into account the habitual quality of most health and safety-related behaviour; a more complete model of behaviour change needs to be based on a better understanding of the role of habit. The overall aim is to contribute to better understanding of behavioural strategies for injury prevention. When habits are weak, attitudes and intentions predict behaviours, but as behaviours turn into habits, they become better predictors of future behaviour than attitudes or intentions. Furthermore, where habits are strong, individuals are less likely to act on new information, evaluating counter-habitual information negatively. Integrating the concepts of strong and weak habits with upstream and downstream strategies, a framework is presented for tailoring strategies to the habit strength of the target behaviour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention / methods*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Habits*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Safety