Background: Current reporting of intervention content in published research articles and protocols is generally poor, with great diversity of terminology, resulting in low replicability. This study aimed to extend the scope and improve the reliability of a 26-item taxonomy of behaviour change techniques developed by Abraham and Michie [Abraham, C. and Michie, S. (2008). A taxonomy of behaviour change techniques used in interventions. Health Psychology, 27(3), 379-387.] in order to optimise the reporting and scientific study of behaviour change interventions.
Methods: Three UK study centres collaborated in applying this existing taxonomy to two systematic reviews of interventions to increase physical activity and healthy eating. The taxonomy was refined in iterative steps of (1) coding intervention descriptions, and assessing inter-rater reliability, (2) identifying gaps and problems across study centres and (3) refining the labels and definitions based on consensus discussions.
Results: Labels and definitions were improved for all techniques, conceptual overlap between categories was resolved, some categories were split and 14 techniques were added, resulting in a 40-item taxonomy. Inter-rater reliability, assessed on 50 published intervention descriptions, was good (kappa = 0.79).
Conclusions: This taxonomy can be used to improve the specification of interventions in published reports, thus improving replication, implementation and evidence syntheses. This will strengthen the scientific study of behaviour change and intervention development.