Review decision date: August 2014

Review decision: 

There will be a partial update of PH6.

Next review date: August 2017

This guidance was previously entitled ‘Behaviour change’.

This guidance is aimed at those responsible for helping people to change their behaviour to improve their health. This includes policy makers and those working in local authorities and the community and voluntary sectors.

It gives advice on how to plan and run relevant initiatives.

The recommendations include the following advice:

  • base interventions on a proper assessment of the target group, where they are located and the behaviour which is to be changed: careful planning is the cornerstone of success
  •  work with other organisations and the community itself to decide on and develop initiatives
  • build on the skills and knowledge that already exists in the community, for example, by encouraging networks of people who can support each other
  • take account of – and resolve – problems that prevent people changing their behaviour (for example, the costs involved in taking part in exercise programmes or buying fresh fruit and vegetables, or lack of knowledge about how to make changes)
  • base all interventions on evidence of what works
  • train staff to help people change their behaviour
  • evaluate all interventions.

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

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.