How can I use the Theory & Techniques tool?

When you open the Theory & Techniques tool, you will see a heat map with 74 BCTs arranged vertically down the side and 26 mechanisms-of-action (MoAs) arranged horizontally along the top. Hovering over each BCT or MoA label will provide its full title and definition, and hovering over a cell will indicate which BCT-MoA link you are on.

The cells within the heat map contain a symbol for each link and are four different colours. These colours reflect the relative strength of a particular BCT-MoA link, ranging from red (links), through orange (inconclusive links), to blue (non-links), summarising the evidence for the link over the literature synthesis, expert consensus and triangulation studies. White cells indicate a lack of evidence.

Criterion for a link (marginal link) was p < .05 (.1) in literature synthesis and ≥80% (70%) of experts rated the link (or non-link) as “definitely“ in consensus and triangulation studies.

Links Links - exceeded the criterion in both the literature and consensus studies; OR exceeded criterion in the triangulation study.
Inconclusive Inconsistent or marginal links – [met criterion for a link in either the literature or expert consensus study but not the other study; OR marginal evidence in either the literature (.05 < p < .10) and/or consensus (e.g. link agreed by 70-80% of experts)] AND not resolved in the triangulation study. [also includes links omitted in error from study 3].
Non-links – did not meet criterion in literature study and exceeded criterion for non-link in consensus study; OR exceeded criterion for non-link in the triangulation study.
Absence of evidence Absence of evidence - did not meet criterion in literature study AND did not meet criterion for a link, or a non-link, in consensus study; OR not included in expert consensus study

Not all BCT-MoA links in the literature synthesis study were included in the expert consensus study and vice versa. In the literature synthesis, only BCTs that were identified within the 277 intervention articles were included while in the expert consensus study, to reduce participant burden, only BCTs that were commonly used within the intervention literature were included.

What happens when I click on a link?

Clicking on a cell provides the data from the literature synthesis and expert consensus studies, and where applicable, further data from the triangulation study:

  • Literature synthesis: (i) p value indicating the strength of the occurrence of the BCT-MoA link (lower p values indicate stronger links i.e. links occurring with greater frequency), and (ii) total indicating the number of articles in which a particular link was described.
  • Expert consensus: the percentage of experts indicating the strength of agreement (i.e. linked, not linked, uncertain).
  • Triangulation: the percentage of experts indicating the strength of agreement (i.e. linked, not linked, uncertain) for those links that were brought forward for reconciliation due to marginal and inconsistent findings from the literature synthesis and expert consensus studies.

For example,

  • the cell for BCT ‘8.7 Graded Tasks’ and MoA ‘Beliefs about Capabilities’, is green indicating a Link; clicking on the cell shows concordance between the literature and consensus studies (p<0.001 in the literature study and 90% of experts in the consensus study agreed on this link).
  • the cell for BCT 5.1 ‘Information about health consequences’ and MoA ‘Intentions’ is green indicting a Link: clicking on the cell shows inconsistency between the literature and consensus studies (p<0.001 in the literature study but only 63% of experts in the consensus study agreed on the link) which was resolved in the triangulation study (81.25% agreed on the link).
  • the cell for BCT 7.1 ‘Prompts and cues’ and MoA ‘Attitude towards the behaviour’ is blue indicating a Non-link; clicking on the cell shows concordance that this is a non-link (p=.87 in the literature synthesis study and 86% of experts agreed it was definitely not a link in the consensus study).