Gaps in the evidence

Gaps in the evidence

The Programme Development Group (PDG) identified a number of gaps in the evidence related to the programmes under examination based on an assessment of the evidence. These gaps are set out below.

1. There is a lack of evidence on the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of using choice architecture interventions to change alcohol, sexual health behaviours, smoking and physical activity-related behaviours (with the exception of choice architecture interventions to promote stair use). In particular, there is a lack of UK-based primary research exploring the differential impacts of such interventions. (Source: Expert paper 8)

2. There is a lack of evaluation, using appropriate research designs, of choice architecture interventions used in commercial settings to determine their effectiveness, cost-effectiveness or usability in non-commercial settings. (Source: Expert paper 14)

3. There is a lack of review-level work and primary research examining the effectiveness of individual behaviour change techniques. (Source: Expert paper 14)

4. There is a lack of evidence addressing what the most effective approach is to dealing with multiple behaviours (for example, if someone smokes, consumes alcohol above recommended weekly limits and is physically inactive). Specifically:

a) Should behaviours be approached in sequence or in combination?

b) If multiple behaviours are addressed in combination, how is this decided? For example, is it based on the types of behaviour? How dependent is it on the person's capability, opportunity and motivation?

(Source: Expert paper 14)

5. There is a lack of evidence prospectively investigating the relationship between practitioner training, subsequent competencies and behaviour change interventions. In particular, studies have not looked at the effect size of competencies or training. (Source: Evidence review 3)

6. There is limited research on the training needed to address barriers to delivering behaviour change interventions. (Source: Evidence review 3)

7. There is a lack of published research that provides details of the theoretical basis of an intervention (beyond the naming of a theory). There is a lack of evidence on how theoretical accounts of behaviour change can be used to guide evidence synthesis (combining multiple sources of quantitative evidence, such as meta-regression, meta-analysis) of behaviour change interventions. (Source: Evidence review 2)

8. There is a lack of recent evidence (post-2003) on behaviour change techniques used to influence sexual behaviour. In particular, there is a lack of UK randomised control trials with populations aged 16 and over. (Source: Evidence review 2)

The Committee made 7 recommendations for research into areas that it believes will be a priority for developing future guidance. These are listed in recommendations for research.