Minimal intervention needed for change: definition, use, and value for improving health and health research

Transl Behav Med. 2014 Mar;4(1):26-33. doi: 10.1007/s13142-013-0232-1.


Much research focuses on producing maximal intervention effects. This has generally not resulted in interventions being rapidly or widely adopted or seen as feasible given resources, time, and expertise constraints in the majority of real-world settings. We present a definition and key characteristics of a minimum intervention needed to produce change (MINC). To illustrate use of a MINC condition, we describe a computer-assisted, interactive minimal intervention, titled Healthy Habits, used in three different controlled studies and its effects. This minimal intervention produced modest to sizable health behavior and psychosocial improvements, depending on the intensity of personal contacts, producing larger effects at longer-term assessments. MINC comparison conditions could help to advance both health care and health research, especially comparative effectiveness research. Policy and funding implications of requiring an intervention to be demonstrated more effective than a simpler, less costly MINC alternative are discussed.

Keywords: Comparative effectiveness; Costs; Intervention; Research methods.