This guideline covers a set of principles that can be used to help people change their behaviour. The aim is for practitioners to use these principles to encourage people to adopt a healthier lifestyle by, for example, stopping smoking, adopting a healthy diet and being more physically active.

The recommendations in this guideline on individual level interventions (recommendation 4) and evaluation (recommendation 7) have been built upon further in the NICE guideline on behaviour change: individual approaches (PH49).


This guideline recommends a set of principles to use as the basis for:

Who is it for?

  • National policy makers, commissioners, providers and practitioners in the NHS, local authorities and the community and voluntary sectors
  • Researchers, including those who oversee research funding
  • Social and behavioural scientists
  • Health economists working on health-related knowledge, attitude and behaviour change

Is this guideline up to date?

We reviewed the evidence in August 2014 and we are updating the recommendations on population-level interventions.

Next review: August 2017

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

This guideline was previously called behaviour change.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.