Enhancing Behavior Change Technique Coding Methods: Identifying Behavioral Targets and Delivery Styles in Smoking Cessation Trials

Nicola Black* (Corresponding Author), A. Jess Williams, Neza Javornik, Claire Scott, Marie Johnston, Maarten C Eisma, Susan Michie, Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, Robert West, Wolfgang Viechtbauer, Marijn de Bruin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
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The behavior change technique (BCT) taxonomy v1 is often used in systematic reviews for identifying active components of interventions. Its utility could be enhanced by linking BCTs to specific target behaviors and qualifying BCT delivery style.

To determine whether behavioral targets and delivery styles of BCTs can be coded reliably and to determine the utility of coding these characteristics.

As part of a large systematic review of 142 smoking cessation trials, two researchers independently coded publicly and privately held intervention and comparator group materials, specifying the behavioral target (quitting, abstinence, medication adherence, or treatment engagement) and delivery style (tailored vs. not tailored; active participation vs. passive receipt) of each BCT.

Researchers coded 3,843 BCTs, which were reliably attributed to behavioral targets (AC1 = 0.92, PABAK = 0.91). Tailoring (AC1 = 0.80, PABAK = 0.74) and participation (AC1 = 0.71, PABAK = 0.64) were also coded reliably. There was considerable variability between groups in quitting and abstinence BCTs (ranges: 0–41; 0–18) and in tailoring and participation (ranges: 0–20; 0–32), but less variability for medication adherence and treatment engagement (ranges: 0–6; 0–7).

Behavioral targets and delivery styles of BCTs can be reliably identified and occur with sufficient frequency in smoking cessation trials for inclusion in quantitative syntheses (e.g., meta-regression analyses). Systematic reviewers could consider adopting these methods to evaluate the impact of intervention components targeting different behaviors, as well as the benefits of different BCT delivery styles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-591
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number6
Early online date17 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

We thank the authors of included studies who responded to our requests for materials on the intervention and comparator group support. These materials were crucial to achieving our current aims. We also thank the members of our advisory board panels who provided valuable input into the broader study design.


  • behavior change techniques
  • smoking cessation
  • reliability
  • systematic review
  • delivery style
  • tailoring
  • Smoking cessation
  • Delivery style
  • Systematic review
  • Behavior change technique
  • Reliability
  • Tailoring


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