Behaviour change: how do you keep momentum?
As a specialist behaviour change agency, our intervention framework has been inspired by the academic partnerships we have formed at University of Leeds’ Faculty of Health Sciences and Leeds Beckett.
Over the past 11 years, behavioural science has played a huge part in our campaign development, coupled with co-created communications that are designed around the needs of our target populations, we aim to create positive outcomes through sustained engagement.
Based on the transtheoretical principles of change, our framework ensures interventions are relevant, credible and effective. Rather than linear awareness raising interventions, our process is cyclical and involves the adoption of six key stages for any given intervention. Each stage enables us to build the strongest possible connection with audiences to inspire and sustain positive choices. This is vital as typically it could take up to six months for someone to change their thought process from ‘not considering change’ to ‘considering change’ or from ‘preparing to change’ to ‘taking action’.
Like us, many of you will have started some amazing projects to instigate positive change before the Covid-19 pandemic. Rightly so, many of you will have also made decisions to pause and reprioritise this work in order to focus on the national crisis.
Whilst unavoidable, there is just one concern here, and that is not letting all of the effort your target population has invested go to waste, as a result of these projects being paused. There are two key points to consider here:
- If your project was in full swing or in its second or third cycle, how much have target populations invested as they progress through the stages of change, from pre-contemplation through to action and maintenance? And therefore, how much could pausing set them back?
- As we see service demand decrease and a reduction in service use, screening programmes etc. due to concerns around Covid-19, we have heard news and insight reports of damaging backlogs. There has never been a more important time to promote preventative (or left shift) wellbeing strategies. Are there any preventative interventions you have paused or could now adopt to try to ease the growing backlog spike?
If you can, we recommend keeping two key stages from our intervention framework running, in order to maintain change and avoid relapse for those projects you may have now paused. These are:
Promote positive experiences
This phase is all about keeping momentum, celebrating positive change and evidencing change can happen. Social modeling using real life local role models has proven to be highly effective, not only in our experience but in many academic reports. This in turn helps avoid relapse through the idea that a new social norm is starting to emerge. It should also bring new advocates on board as you encourage more people to share their positive stories/experiences.
Remind and encourage
This is about the continuous distribution of seasonally relevant, locally topical and time-based information, to continue to inspire positive behaviour and avoid relapse. Essentially this is ongoing content marketing that shows your campaign or intervention isn’t posed from a place of authority, but is rather living alongside your target population, understanding what triggers them to relapse and what could inspire them to sustain change.
As an example, if we were to encouraging positive thoughts and behaviours around body confidence for 18-24 year olds, we would be likely to time positive messages around the programming times of ‘Love Island’ which might trigger negative thoughts and relapse.
We’d be happy to talk through our behaviour change intervention framework and/or consult on how you might be able to keep your project alive with limited resource during this time.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Ged Savva is the Co-founder and Director of Magpie, a meaningful marketing agency with expertise in community engagement and behaviour change campaigns.