Table 3

Intervention characteristics associated with efficacy

Intervention characteristicsSMD95% CI
Behavioural change techniques:
Prompts/cues3.29(1.97 to 4.62)
Definition: Introduce or define environmental or social stimulus to promote or cue the behaviour. Examples: frequent phone calls by a health professional/ post or email reminders
Credible source2.08(0.95 to 3.22)
Definition: resent verbal or visual communication from a credible source in favour of or against the behaviour. Examples: Explicit, detailed and salient advice from a health professional to engage in physical activity.
Adding objects to the environment1.47(0.41 to 2.53)
Definition: Add objects to the environment in order to facilitate the performance of the behaviour. Examples: Provision of a treadmill, weights, step, or stationary bicycle.
Generalisation of the target behaviour1.32(0.22 to 2.41)
Definition: Advice to perform the desired behaviour, which is already performed in a particular situation, in another situation. Examples: Encouragement to engage in an exercise in home settings.
Monitoring of behaviour by others without feedback1.02(0.05 to 1.98)
Definition: Observe or record behaviour with the person’s knowledge as part of a behavioural change strategy. Examples: The physiotherapist informs participants that their physical activity levels will be monitored using accelerometers and telemonitoring devices.
Self-monitoring of outcome(s) of behaviour0.79(0.06 to 1.52)
Definition: Establish a method for the person to monitor and record the outcome(s) of their behaviour as part of a behavioural change strategy. Examples: Monitoring reduced pain symptoms and dyspnoea as a result of physical activity.
Graded tasks0.73(0.22 to 1.24)
Definition: Set easy-to-perform tasks, making them increasingly difficult, but achievable until the behaviour is performed. Examples: Gradual increase in the level of exertion as assessed using the Borg scale.
Behavioural practice/rehearsal0.72(0.26 to 1.18)
Definition: Prompt practice or rehearsal of the performance of the behaviour one or more times in a context or at a time when the performance may not be necessary. Examples: Exercise training (individual or in a group).
Action planning0.62(0.03 to 1.21)
Definition: prompt, detailed planning of performance of the behaviour (must include at least one of context, frequency, duration and intensity). Examples: plan when, where, how much and at what intensity the participant will perform the exercise.
Goal setting (behaviour)0.56(0.03 to 1.08)
Definition: set or agree on a goal defined in terms of the behaviour to be achieved. Examples: Set a goal to complete 30 min of exercise (brisk walking) at the vagarious intensity in future.
Setting: Centre-based interventions0.98(0.35 to 1.62)
Mode of delivery: Group-based interventions0.89(0.29 to 1.50)
Facilitator: Physiotherapist0.84(0.03 to 1.65)
  • Definitions are from Michie et al.15 Intervention characteristics are described in table 2 and online supplemental material 4. SMD and 95% CI for characteristics that were not suggested to be significantly associated with efficacy are summarised in online supplemental material 4.

  • SMD, standardised mean difference.