Introduction: Interventions that make extensive use of theory tend to have larger effects on behaviour. The Intervention Mapping (IM) framework incorporates theory into intervention design, implementation and evaluation, and was applied to the development of a community-based childhood obesity prevention intervention for a multi-ethnic population.
Methods: IM was applied as follows: 1) Needs assessment of the community and culture; consideration of evidence-base, policy and practice; 2) Identification of desired outcomes and change objectives following identification of barriers to behaviour change mapped alongside psychological determinants (e.g. knowledge, self-efficacy, intention); 3) Selection of theory-based methods and practical applications to address barriers to behaviour change (e.g., strategies for responsive feeding); 4) Design of the intervention by developing evidence-based interactive activities and resources (e.g., visual aids to show babies stomach size). The activities were integrated into an existing parenting programme; 5) Adoption and implementation: parenting practitioners were trained by healthcare professionals to deliver the programme within Children Centres.
Results: HAPPY (Healthy and Active Parenting Programme for Early Years) is aimed at overweight and obese pregnant women (BMI > 25); consists of 12 × 2.5 hr. sessions (6 ante-natal from 24 weeks; 6 postnatal up to 9 months); it addresses mother's diet and physical activity, breast or bottle feeding, infant diet and parental feeding practices, and infant physical activity.
Conclusion: We have demonstrated that IM is a feasible and helpful method for providing an evidence based and theoretical structure to a complex health behaviour change intervention. The next stage will be to assess the impact of the intervention on behaviour change and clinical factors associated with childhood obesity. The HAPPY programme is currently being tested as part of a randomised controlled feasibility trial.