Getting your Head around Behavior Change

July 17, 2017 William Lyons

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Getting your head around behavior change

As the focus moves from rhetoric around ‘Patient First’ and ‘Patient Centricity’, towards actionable programs and tools to engage and empower patients, there is increasing attention been given to Behavioral Science.

Why the interest from Pharma and Med Devices? The interest comes from the desire to identify and understand the underlying factors that influence patient engagement and empowerment, and how to use effective methods to change health-related behaviors that lead to improvements in medication adherence, physical activity, and patient self-management. But what is behavior exactly … and when does it change?

Defining Behavior

Behavior is what people do. We can measure how many people do something, how often they do it, and the features of how they do it. Behavioral science seeks to understand all the factors that influence and guide an individual’s behavior, to establish realistic models and theories of human behavior.

Patient’s behaviors around medication and their treatment are particularly complex. For example, therapy adherence is much more than simply the behavior of taking medication as prescribed. It encompasses many more behaviors such as attending clinical appointments, maintaining physical exercise regimes, improving diet, making healthier lifestyle change, and a whole range of other factors.

When does Behavior Change Occur?

Behavior change occurs when our capability or opportunity to engage in a behavior changes, or our motivation to engage in the behavior changes relative to potentially competing behaviors. Behavior change involves acting differently from how we would have acted. It may involve: not doing something we would have done, doing something we would have done, or doing something differently. The change may or may not be deliberate.

Why is behavior change important? The World Health Organization (WHO) defines therapy adherence ‘as the extent to which a person’s behavior – taking medication, following a diet, and/or executing lifestyle changes – corresponds with agreed recommendations from a health provider’.

If Pharma really wants to focus on patient centricity and empowerment, they must understand all the factors that influence a patient’s behavior and implement effective Behavior Change Techniques (BCT) to engage patients, change health-related behaviors and improve patient self-management.

Get the Pharma Exclusive Whitepaper: ‘Using Digital Behavior Change Interventions to Improve Therapy Adherence’

Request the full 20 page whitepaper which includes:

  • How to apply Evidence Based Behavior Change models, specific to improvements in Therapy Adherence
  • The 7 steps to designing Behavior Change Interventions
  • How Digital Behavior Change Interventions can be implement into Patient Support Programs