Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler: towards a protocol for accumulating evidence regarding the active content of health behaviour change interventions

G.J. Peters*, M. de Bruin, R. Crutzen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


There is a need to consolidate the evidence base underlying our toolbox of methods of behaviour change. Recent efforts to this effect have conducted meta-regressions on evaluations of behaviour change interventions, deriving each method's effectiveness from its association to intervention effect size. However, there are a range of issues that raise concern about whether this approach is actually furthering or instead obstructing the advancement of health psychology theories and the quality of health behaviour change interventions. Using examples from theory, the literature and data from previous meta-analyses, these concerns and their implications are explained and illustrated. An iterative protocol for evidence base accumulation is proposed that integrates evidence derived from both experimental and applied behaviour change research, and combines theory development in experimental settings with theory testing in applied real-life settings. As evidence gathered in this manner accumulates, a cumulative science of behaviour change can develop.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalHealth Psychology Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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