Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Do self-reported intentions predict clinicians behaviour: a systematic review.

By Martin P. Eccles, Susan Hrisos, Eileen F. Kaner, DO Dickinson, F Beyer, Marie Johnston and Jillian Joy Francis


Background: Implementation research is the scientific study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of\ud clinical research findings into routine clinical practice. Several interventions have been shown to be effective in\ud changing health care professionals' behaviour, but heterogeneity within interventions, targeted behaviours, and\ud study settings make generalisation difficult. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the 'active ingredients' in\ud professional behaviour change strategies. Theories of human behaviour that feature an individual's "intention" to\ud do something as the most immediate predictor of their behaviour have proved to be useful in non-clinical\ud populations. As clinical practice is a form of human behaviour such theories may offer a basis for developing a\ud scientific rationale for the choice of intervention to use in the implementation of new practice. The aim of this\ud review was to explore the relationship between intention and behaviour in clinicians and how this compares to\ud the intention-behaviour relationship in studies of non-clinicians.\ud Methods: We searched: PsycINFO, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled\ud Trials, Science/Social science citation index, Current contents (social & behavioural med/clinical med), ISI\ud conference proceedings, and Index to Theses. The reference lists of all included papers were checked manually.\ud Studies were eligible for inclusion if they had: examined a clinical behaviour within a clinical context, included\ud measures of both intention and behaviour, measured behaviour after intention, and explored this relationship\ud quantitatively. All titles and abstracts retrieved by electronic searching were screened independently by two\ud reviewers, with disagreements resolved by discussion.\ud Discussion: Ten studies were found that examined the relationship between intention and clinical behaviours in\ud 1623 health professionals. The proportion of variance in behaviour explained by intention was of a similar\ud magnitude to that found in the literature relating to non-health professionals. This was more consistently the case\ud for studies in which intention-behaviour correspondence was good and behaviour was self-reported. Though firm\ud conclusions are limited by a smaller literature, our findings are consistent with that of the non-health professional\ud literature. This review, viewed in the context of the larger populations of studies, provides encouragement for\ud the contention that there is a predictable relationship between the intentions of a health professional and their\ud subsequent behaviour. However, there remain significant methodological challenges

Topics: Physicians' Practice Patterns, Intention, Systematic Review
Publisher: BioMed Central
Year: 2006
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (1998). Closing the gap between research and practice: an overview of systematic reviews of interventions to promote implementation of research findings by health care professionals. BMJ doi
  2. (2001). Efficacy of the theory of planned behaviour: a meta-analytic review.
  3. (2005). Guiding the design and selection of interventions to influence the implementation of evidence-based practice: an experimental simulation of a complex intervention trial. Soc Sci Med
  4. Intention-behavior relations: A conceptual and empirical review.
  5. (2003). MP: PRocess modelling in ImpleMEntation research:selecting a theoretical basis for interventions to change clinical practice.
  6. (1994). No magic bullets: a systematic review of 102 trials of interventions to help health care professionals deliver services more effectively or efficiently. Hamilton,Ontario,
  7. (1996). The theory of planned behaviour: a review of its applications to health-related behaviours.
  8. (1991). The theory of planned behaviour. Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes
  9. (2005). What do we know about how to do audit and feedback? Pitfalls in applying evidence from a systematic review. BMC Health Services Research

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.