Impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency on healthcare professional delivery of opportunistic behaviour change interventions: a retrospective cohort study.

Publication date: Feb 05, 2024

The public health policy “Making Every Contact Count” (MECC) compels healthcare professionals to deliver health behaviour change interventions during routine consultations. As healthcare systems continue their recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency, supporting people to modify health behaviours is more important now than when the policy was introduced. The present study aims to: (a) examine changes in healthcare professionals’ awareness of, and engagement with the policy over a five-year period, (b) examine the psychosocial drivers associated with delivering behaviour change interventions, and (c) identify targets to increase healthcare professionals’ delivery of interventions. Comparison of data from two independent representative surveys of NHS healthcare professionals working in the UK. In both surveys (July-September 2017; Nā€‰=ā€‰1387, and February-March 2022; Nā€‰=ā€‰1008), participants were asked to report: (1) awareness of the MECC policy, (2) the prevalence of MECC-related practice (perceived patient benefit, how often interventions were delivered, and time spent delivering interventions), and (3) perceptions of capabilities, opportunities and motivations to deliver behaviour change interventions. T- tests (independent-samples), MANOVA, multiple linear regression, and chi-square analyses were used to generate comparisons between the surveys. Awareness of the policy increased from 2017 (31. 4%) to 2022 (52. 0%). However, in 2022 compared with 2017, healthcare professionals reported (a) fewer patients would benefit from behaviour change interventions (49. 1% versus 55. 9%), (b) they delivered behaviour change interventions to a lower proportion of patients (38. 0% versus 50. 0%), and (c) they spent a lower proportion of the consultation time delivering interventions (26. 5% versus 35. 3%). Further, in 2022, compared with 2017, healthcare professionals reported fewer physical opportunities, fewer social opportunities, and fewer psychological capabilities to deliver behaviour change interventions. In the 2022 survey, perceptions of patient benefit and delivery of interventions was associated with greater perceptions of opportunities and motivations. Health behaviour change interventions remain an important part of routine healthcare in the continued recovery from COVID-19 public health emergency, however reported engagement with MECC-related practices appears to have reduced over time. Future research should consider how healthcare professionals identify patients who might benefit from opportunistic behaviour change interventions, and to increase capabilities, opportunities, and motivations to deliver interventions during routine consultations.

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Concepts Keywords
Drivers Behaviour change interventions
February COM-B
Healthcare COVID-19
July Healthcare professionals


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19
disease MESH emergency
disease VO report
disease VO time
pathway REACTOME Reproduction
drug DRUGBANK Ethanol
disease IDO quality
drug DRUGBANK Polyethylene glycol
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease VO company
drug DRUGBANK Etoperidone
disease IDO intervention
disease VO ANOVA

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