Open access The importance of using multiple outcome measures and mixed methods for evaluating the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions: a case study targeting health professionals' adoption of a national suicide prevention guideline

A Hanbury, L Wallace, Michael Clark (2011)

Psychology, Health and Medicine 16 3 291-303


Available online: 11 April 2011

Interest in behaviour-change interventions targeting health professionals' adoption of clinical guidelines is growing. Recommendations have been made for interventions to have a theoretical base, explore the local context and to use mixed and multiple methods of evaluation to establish intervention effectiveness. This article presents a case study of a behaviour-change intervention delivered to community mental health professionals in one Primary Care Trust, aimed at raising adherence to a national suicide prevention guideline. A discussion of how the theory-base was selected, the local context explored, and how the intervention was developed and delivered is provided. Time series analysis, mediational analysis and qualitative process evaluation were used to evaluate and explore intervention effectiveness. The time series analysis revealed that the intervention was not effective at increasing adherence to the guideline. The mediational analysis indicates that the intervention failed to successfully target the key barrier to adoption of the guidance, and the qualitative process evaluation identified certain intervention components that were well received by the health professionals, and also identified weaknesses in the delivery of the intervention. It is recommended that future research should seek to further develop the evidence-base for linking specific intervention strategies to specific behavioural barriers, explore the potential of theories that take into account broader social and organisational factors that influence health professionals' practice and focus on the process of data synthesis for identifying key factors to target with tailored interventions. Multiple and mixed evaluation techniques are recommended not only to explore whether an intervention is effective or not but also why it is effective or not.