Evidence-based selection of theories for designing behaviour change interventions: using methods based on theoretical construct domains to understand clinicians' blood transfusion behaviour

Br J Health Psychol. 2009 Nov;14(Pt 4):625-46. doi: 10.1348/135910708X397025. Epub 2009 Jan 20.


Background: Many theories of behaviour are potentially relevant to predictive and intervention studies but most studies investigate a narrow range of theories. Michie et al. (2005) agreed 12 'theoretical domains' from 33 theories that explain behaviour change. They developed a 'Theoretical Domains Interview' (TDI) for identifying relevant domains for specific clinical behaviours, but the framework has not been used for selecting theories for predictive studies. It was used here to investigate clinicians' transfusion behaviour in intensive care units (ICU). Evidence suggests that red blood cells transfusion could be reduced for some patients without reducing quality of care.

Objectives: (1) To identify the domains relevant to transfusion practice in ICUs and neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), using the TDI. (2) To use the identified domains to select appropriate theories for a study predicting transfusion behaviour.

Methods: An adapted TDI about managing a patient with borderline haemoglobin by watching and waiting instead of transfusing red blood cells was used to conduct semi-structured, one-to-one interviews with 18 intensive care consultants and neonatologists across the UK.

Results: Relevant theoretical domains were: knowledge, beliefs about capabilities, beliefs about consequences, social influences, behavioural regulation. Further analysis at the construct level resulted in selection of seven theoretical approaches relevant to this context: Knowledge-Attitude-Behaviour Model, Theory of Planned Behaviour, Social Cognitive Theory, Operant Learning Theory, Control Theory, Normative Model of Work Team Effectiveness and Action Planning Approaches.

Conclusions: This study illustrated, the use of the TDI to identify relevant domains in a complex area of inpatient care. This approach is potentially valuable for selecting theories relevant to predictive studies and resulted in greater breadth of potential explanations than would be achieved if a single theoretical model had been adopted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Blood Transfusion / statistics & numerical data*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • United Kingdom