Behaviour Change


In A Nutshell:

Improvement Academy has expertise in applying behaviour change methods to sticky quality improvement challenges. This is available through regular one-day workshops and expert support, and is the product of a long-standing collaboration between the Improvement Academy and academic applied researchers with national expertise in the psychology of behaviour change; including Yorkshire Quality and Safety Research Group.

The challenge

Many things we do in healthcare to improve safety, such as the introduction of new guidelines and technologies require NHS staff to change their behaviour. It is often assumed that this is easy – tell people what to do and they will do it. But, behaviour change can be difficult to achieve. In this work we help healthcare teams to Achieve Behaviour Change by applying tried and tested theories from psychology.

Research evidence tells us that interventions based on theories of behaviour change are more effective. However, these theories are often not accessible to healthcare professionals and managers who are responsible for making change happen.



What have we done about it?

Behaviour change theory became accessible to both researchers and health care practitioners alike when a group of psychologists within the British Psychological Society developed the Theoretical Domains Framework (Michie et al.’s 2005).

We have taken this framework and used it to develop a six stepped approach to behaviour change. This involves:

  1. Establishing an implementation team supported by the executive team
  2. Identifying a target behaviour
  3. Understanding the barriers to change
  4. Developing intervention strategies that address these barriers
  5. Implementing change
  6. Evaluation


A programme of research has demonstrated the success of this approach (Taylor et al., 2014), and since 2014 the Improvement Academy has helped teams across the region to engage in their own behaviour change project by:

  • Hosting one-day behaviour change workshops, since 2014 these have been attended by more than 300 delegates including patient safety leads, improvement specialists, doctors, nurses and managers
  • Developing an ABC Behaviour Change Toolkit and making it freely available online. The toolkit offers direction and examples for every step of the behaviour change journey
  • Offering post-workshop support to encourage the adoption of this approach for individual patient safety improvement projects

If you experience any difficulty playing the video here, it is also available on our Youtube channel here.

Contact Information

Rebecca Lawton

Judith Dyson

PDF Downloads

"I gained valuable experience from the team at the Improvement Academy, the secondment allowed me to gain a better understanding of Service Improvement work"

Samantha Sterling, Wheelchair Service Manager