Please login to the form below

How to measure health behaviour change programmes

Creating health intervention programmes based on outcomes rather than processes provides new ways of measuring health behaviour change.
Many of the methods in use today for measuring health behaviour change lead to confusing, sometimes contradictory outcomes. There is an ongoing search to find the value in medicine and healthcare, particularly value offered to the patient.  

Few in the medical community would argue against the need to improve patient adherence to medications or prescribed courses of action designed to alter behaviour. If a patient won’t do as the doctor orders, or won’t take their medicine properly, how are they supposed to get better?

The ‘problem’ with patients is they’re people, and many people are naturally resistive to change. We’ve all had experiences where we’ve doubted our ability to live up to the expectations of experts, or occasions when we felt overwhelmed and unable to accomplish all that was asked of us.  

Therefore, there’s such a strong emphasis in medicine today on creating patient-centred programmes. By putting the patient at the heart of their own treatment, especially when it comes to persuading them to adopt sometimes challenging interventions, it is hoped they’ll take more responsibility as individuals and move towards greater self-management.

The patient/physician disconnect

The real meaning of ‘patient-centred’ often gets lost in the drive to create new programmes and health interventions. Many surveys have revealed the difference between what’s important to patients and what’s important to doctors. Even dissimilar patients can have differing ideas about what’s important, so being patient-centred for healthcare professionals is far from a straight line between A and B.  

The value outcome of medicines is still largely measured against healthcare systems or general societal outcomes. To be truly patient-centred, programmes need to rather focus on value to the individual, and find a way of measuring health behaviour change at an individual level.

Focusing on outcomes

Evidence-based guidelines are often followed when seeking to provide quality care. The guidelines are, however, measured more on the process followed than the actual outcome to the patient. This can put the patient at odds with the evidence-based approach, since if a programme is proven to work with the population in general, why won’t it work with everyone?  

Another way of measuring health behaviour change is to adopt a ‘goals’ oriented perspective within a programme that considers the patient’s point of view. Instead of measuring clinical outcomes alone, also measuring quality of life can result in significant improvements in patient outcomes.

Defining goals

Adopting a ‘goal-focused’ outcome, with the goal being informed by the patient’s point of view, allows for some flexibility and a more intuitive way of measuring health behaviour change, since the change needed is defined by the individual patient.  

Having identified the required behaviour change, barriers can then be explored and exposed, and a highly-targeted intervention designed with the final goal in mind.  

Such interventions offer immediate value and benefits to the patient. And because they’re so highly targeted, with clearly defined goals, measuring health behaviour change is simpler and likely to yield a more positive outcome - for healthcare professionals and for patients.  

Patient-centricity is a trend set to continue for the long-term, and there is no shortage of innovation or enthusiasm in the medical community for designing new programmes. But the ways in which we measure patient benefits and value needs to be equally creative.

This blog was originally published here:

18th April 2018



Company Details


+44 (0) 161 818 8399

Contact Website

4th Floor, Churchgate House
56, Oxford Street
M1 6EU
United Kingdom

Latest content on this profile

We need to be better for mental health sufferers
In support of World Mental Health Day, Manchester-based health communications agency, COUCH, is calling out for the industry to do more and to be better for those who need help in this area.
Improving medication adherence by increasing health literacy
Health literacy and therapy adherence are interlinked. Improving health literacy involves removing barriers that prevent patients’ medical understanding.
What pharma marketers can learn from behavioural science
Pharma behavioural science and traditional emotional marketing create a powerful mix of techniques that have impact on real lives.
Health knowledge: Why is it so important?
Health knowledge plays an important role in population health, but by itself is rarely enough to prompt a change in the behaviours that cause the risks.
COUCH study finds almost half of patients skip medication
Young people and less educated among those with less understanding of their health condition, according to UK-wide survey
Does a lack of understanding of human behaviour affect healthcare?
Only by synthesising research across multiple disciplines can we truly understand how to effect patient behaviour change