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      Theoretical explanations for maintenance of behaviour change: a systematic review of behaviour theories

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          Background: Behaviour change interventions are effective in supporting individuals in achieving temporary behaviour change. Behaviour change maintenance, however, is rarely attained. The aim of this review was to identify and synthesise current theoretical explanations for behaviour change maintenance to inform future research and practice.

          Methods: Potentially relevant theories were identified through systematic searches of electronic databases (Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO). In addition, an existing database of 80 theories was searched, and 25 theory experts were consulted. Theories were included if they formulated hypotheses about behaviour change maintenance. Included theories were synthesised thematically to ascertain overarching explanations for behaviour change maintenance. Initial theoretical themes were cross-validated.

          Findings: One hundred and seventeen behaviour theories were identified, of which 100 met the inclusion criteria. Five overarching, interconnected themes representing theoretical explanations for behaviour change maintenance emerged. Theoretical explanations of behaviour change maintenance focus on the differential nature and role of motives, self-regulation, resources (psychological and physical), habits, and environmental and social influences from initiation to maintenance.

          Discussion: There are distinct patterns of theoretical explanations for behaviour change and for behaviour change maintenance. The findings from this review can guide the development and evaluation of interventions promoting maintenance of health behaviours and help in the development of an integrated theory of behaviour change maintenance.

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          Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement

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            In search of how people change. Applications to addictive behaviors.

            How people intentionally change addictive behaviors with and without treatment is not well understood by behavioral scientists. This article summarizes research on self-initiated and professionally facilitated change of addictive behaviors using the key trans-theoretical constructs of stages and processes of change. Modification of addictive behaviors involves progression through five stages--pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance--and individuals typically recycle through these stages several times before termination of the addiction. Multiple studies provide strong support for these stages as well as for a finite and common set of change processes used to progress through the stages. Research to date supports a trans-theoretical model of change that systematically integrates the stages with processes of change from diverse theories of psychotherapy.
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              Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory


                Author and article information

                Health Psychol Rev
                Health Psychol Rev
                Health Psychology Review
                2 July 2016
                7 March 2016
                : 10
                : 3
                : 277-296
                [ a ]Institute for Health and Society, Newcastle University , Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
                [ b ]UKCRC Centre for Excellence in Translational Public Health Research (Fuse), Newcastle University , Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
                [ c ]School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling , Stirling, UK
                [ d ]UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), University of Cambridge , Cambridge, UK
                Author notes
                [CONTACT ] Falko Sniehotta falko.sniehotta@

                Supplemental data for this article can be accessed at

                © 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 106, Pages: 20
                This work was supported by an ESRC PhD studentship awarded to DK [grant number ESRC-3000021026].


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