Behaviour change communication targeting four health behaviours in developing countries: a review of change techniques

Soc Sci Med. 2012 Aug;75(4):612-21. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.03.016. Epub 2012 Apr 7.


Behaviour change communication is vital for increasing the enactment of particular behaviours known to promote health and growth. The techniques used to change behaviour are important for determining how successful the intervention is. In order to integrate findings from different interventions, we need to define and organize the techniques previously used and connect them to effectiveness data. This paper reviews 24 interventions and programs implemented to change four health behaviours related to child health in developing countries: the use of bed nets, hand washing, face washing and complementary feeding. The techniques employed are organized under six categories: information, performance, problem solving, social support, materials, and media. The most successful interventions use three or even four categories of techniques, engaging participants at the behavioural, social, sensory, and cognitive levels. We discuss the link between techniques and theories. We propose that program development would be more systematic if researchers considered a menu of technique categories appropriate for the targeted behaviour and audience when designing their studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Mortality
  • Child Welfare
  • Developing Countries*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Communication*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation
  • Psychological Theory