Behavior Change: An Overview

Behavior change is a term used to describe the process of modifying an individual’s behavior. It is typically used in the context of health promotion, where it is used to modify an individual’s lifestyle and health-related behaviors. Behavior change is an important tool for improving health outcomes, as it can reduce the risk of disease, improve mental health, and increase overall quality of life. This article provides an overview of behavior change, including its theoretical basis, strategies, and evidence-based approaches.

Theoretical Basis

Behavior change is based on a variety of theoretical models, such as the Health Belief Model, Transtheoretical Model, Social Cognitive Theory, and Self-Determination Theory. These models provide a framework for understanding the factors that influence behavior change, such as motivation, knowledge, self-efficacy, and social and environmental influences.


Behavior change strategies are used to modify an individual’s behavior. These strategies can be divided into three categories: educational, motivational, and environmental. Educational strategies involve providing information and education about health behaviors. Motivational strategies involve setting goals, providing incentives, and creating a supportive environment. Environmental strategies involve changing the environment to make it more supportive of health behaviors.

Evidence-Based Approaches

The evidence base for behavior change is growing rapidly, with studies demonstrating the effectiveness of various approaches. The most effective approaches combine multiple strategies and target multiple levels, such as individual, interpersonal, organizational, and community. Examples of evidence-based approaches include cognitive-behavioral interventions, motivational interviewing, and social marketing campaigns.


Behavior change is an important tool for improving health outcomes. It is based on a variety of theoretical models and involves a range of strategies, such as educational, motivational, and environmental approaches. There is a growing evidence base for behavior change, with studies demonstrating the effectiveness of a variety of evidence-based approaches.


Bodenheimer, T., Lorig, K., Holman, H., & Grumbach, K. (2002). Patient self-management of chronic disease in primary care. Journal of the American Medical Association, 288(19), 2469-2475.

Fitzpatrick, K., & Smith, S. (2013). Motivational interviewing: A tool for behavior change. American Family Physician, 87(2), 93-100.

Glanz, K., Rimer, B. K., & Viswanath, K. (2008). Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kanfer, F., & Schefft, B. K. (2008). Self-regulation and behavior change: A primer. New York, NY: Plenum Press.

Prochaska, J. O., DiClemente, C. C., & Norcross, J. C. (1992). In search of how people change: Applications to addictive behaviors. American Psychologist, 47(9), 1102-1114.

Scroll to Top