A new tool for specifying behavioural interventions: The behaviour change intervention ontology

Robert West, Ailbhe Finnerty, Emma Norris, Alison Wright, Marta M. Marques, Marie Johnston, Mike Kelly, Janna Hastings, Susan Michie

Research output: Contribution to journalAbstractpeer-review


Background/purpose: Ontologies are data structures allowing the specification of knowledge in a given domain that provide a set of: i) unique and unambiguous identifiers representing classes of entity (objects and processes together with their attributes), ii) labels and definitions corresponding to these identifiers, and iii) specified relationships between the entities. The Behaviour
Change Intervention Ontology (BCIO) is a precise representation of classes of objects, processes and attributes involved in behavior change interventions (BCIs) and their evaluation. This presentation sets out the main BCIO classes and relationships relating to interventions and their contexts, as well as evaluation studies and their findings.
Methods: The BCIO upper-level was developed through a process of: 1) initial drafting of a causal model, 2) reviewing existing ontologies related to behaviour change, and 3) iterative amendment development using feedback from experts, success at classifying terms used in studies and comparison with related ontologies.
Results: The upper-level of the BCIO includes entities relating to the ‘BCI Scenario’ and ‘BCI Evaluation Study’. The BCI Scenario involves entities such as: BCI Scenario Plan, BCI Content, BCI Delivery (including BCI Mode of Delivery, BCI Source, and BCI Schedule), BCI Engagement, BCI Mechanisms of Action, BCI Setting, BCI Population, and BCI Outcome Behaviour. The BCI Evaluation study involves entities such as, BCI Evaluation Study Plan, BCI Outcome Estimate, BCI
Evaluation Study Method, BCI Evaluation Study Finding, and BCI Study Risk of Bias or Error.
Conclusions and implications: The upper-level and the ontologies relating to its component entities will be posted on Github
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S33-S33
Number of pages1
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue numberSUPPL 1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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