Background: Behavioural approaches to knowledge translation inform interventions to improve healthcare. However, such approaches often focus on a single behaviour without considering that health professionals perform multiple behaviours in pursuit of multiple goals in a given clinical context. In resource-limited consultations, performing these other goal-directed behaviours may influence optimal performance of a particular evidence-based behaviour. This study aimed to investigate whether a multiple goal-directed behaviour perspective might inform implementation research beyond single-behaviour approaches.
Methods: We conducted theory-based semi-structured interviews with 12 general medical practitioners (GPs) in Scotland on their views regarding two focal clinical behaviours--providing physical activity (PA) advice and prescribing to reduce blood pressure (BP) to <140/80 mmHg--in consultations with patients with diabetes and persistent hypertension. Theory-based constructs investigated were: intention and control beliefs from the theory of planned behaviour, and perceived interfering and facilitating influence of other goal-directed behaviours performed in a diabetes consultation. We coded interview content into pre-specified theory-based constructs and organised codes into themes within each construct using thematic analysis.
Results: Most GPs reported strong intention to prescribe to reduce BP but expressed reasons why they would not. Intention to provide PA advice was variable. Most GPs reported that time constraints and patient preference detrimentally affected their control over providing PA advice and prescribing to reduce BP, respectively. Most GPs perceived many of their other goal-directed behaviours as interfering with providing PA advice, while fewer GPs reported goal-directed behaviours that interfere with prescribing to reduce BP. Providing PA advice and prescribing to reduce BP were perceived to be facilitated by similar diabetes-related behaviours (e.g., discussing cholesterol). While providing PA advice was perceived to be mainly facilitated by providing other lifestyle-related clinical advice (e.g., talking about weight), BP prescribing was reported as facilitated by pursuing ongoing standard consultation-related goals (e.g., clearly structuring the consultation).
Conclusion: GPs readily relate their other goal-directed behaviours with having a facilitating and interfering influence on their performance of particular evidence-based behaviours. This may have implications for advancing the theoretical development of behavioural approaches to implementation research beyond single-behaviour models.