Influences on NHS Health Check behaviours: a systematic review

Lou Atkins*, Chryssa Stefanidou, Tim Chadborn, Katherine Thompson, Susan Michie, Fabi Lorencatto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: National Health Service Health Checks were introduced in 2009 to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) risks and events. Since then, national evaluations have highlighted the need to maximise the programme's impact by improving coverage and outputs. To address these challenges it is important to understand the extent to which positive behaviours are influenced across the NHS Health Check pathway and encourage the promotion or minimisation of behavioural facilitators and barriers respectively. This study applied behavioural science frameworks to: i) identify behaviours and actors relevant to uptake, delivery and follow up of NHS Health Checks and influences on these behaviours and; ii) signpost to example intervention content. Methods: A systematic review of studies reporting behaviours related to NHS Health Check-related behaviours of patients, health care professionals (HCPs) and commissioners. Influences on behaviours were coded using theory-based models: COM-B and Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF). Potential intervention types and behaviour change techniques (BCTs) were suggested to target key influences. Results: We identified 37 studies reporting nine behaviours and influences for eight of these. The most frequently identified influences were physical opportunity including HCPs having space and time to deliver NHS Health Checks and patients having money to adhere to recommendations to change diet and physical activity. Other key influences were motivational, such as beliefs about consequences about the value of NHS Health Checks and behaviour change, and social, such as influences of others on behaviour change. The following techniques are suggested for websites or smartphone apps: Adding objects to the environment, e.g. provide HCPs with electronic schedules to guide timely delivery of Health Checks to target physical opportunity, Social support (unspecified), e.g. include text suggesting patients to ask a colleague to agree in advance to join them in taking the 'healthy option' lunch at work; Information about health consequences, e.g. quotes and/or videos from patients talking about the health benefits of changes they have made. Conclusions: Through the application of behavioural science we identified key behaviours and their influences which informed recommendations for intervention content. To ascertain the extent to which this reflects existing interventions we recommend a review of relevant evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1359
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).


  • Behaviour change techniques
  • Behaviour change wheel
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • NHS health check
  • Theoretical domains framework


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