Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Research Publications

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    'We're all in the same boat': A qualitative study on how groups work in a diabetes prevention and management programme
    Borek, AJ ; Abraham, C ; Greaves, CJ ; Tarrant, M ; Garner, N ; Pascale, M (WILEY, 2019-11-01)
    OBJECTIVES: Although many health interventions are delivered in groups, it is unclear how group context can be best used to promote health-related behaviour change and what change processes are most helpful to participants. This study explored participants' experiences of attending type 2 diabetes prevention and management programme, and their perceptions of how group participation influenced changes in diet and physical activity. DESIGN: Qualitative. METHODS: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 20 participants (twelve men) from nine groups in the Norfolk Diabetes Prevention Study. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using thematic analysis in NVivo. RESULTS: Participants benefited from individual change processes, including information provision, structuring and prioritizing health goals, action planning, self-monitoring, and receiving feedback. They also benefited from group processes, including having a common purpose, sharing experiences, making social comparisons, monitoring and accountability, and providing and receiving social support in the groups. Participants' engagement with, and benefits from, the groups were enhanced when there was a supportive group context (i.e., group cohesion, homogeneous group composition, and a positive group atmosphere). Optimal facilitation to develop an appropriate group context and initiate effective change processes necessitated good facilitator interpersonal and professional skills, credibility and empathy, and effective group facilitation methods. Participants reported developing a sense of responsibility and making behaviour changes that resulted in improvements in health outcomes and weight loss. CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the role of individual and group processes in facilitating health-promoting behaviour change, and the importance of group context and optimal facilitation in promoting engagement with the programme. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? Many health interventions, including programmes to help prevent or manage diabetes and facilitate weight loss, are delivered in groups. Such group-based behaviour-change interventions are often effective in facilitating psychological and behaviour change. There is considerable research and theory on individual change processes and techniques, but less is known about which change processes and techniques facilitate behaviour change in group settings. What does this study add? This study contributes to our understanding of how participating in group-based health programmes may enhance or impede individual behaviour change. It identified individual (intrapersonal) and group (interpersonal, facilitated through group interaction) change processes that were valued by group participants. The findings also show how these change processes may be affected by the group context. A diagram summarizes the identified themes helping to understand interactions between these key processes occurring in groups. The study offers an insight into participants' views on, and experiences of, attending a group-based diabetes prevention and management programme. Thus, it helps better understand how the intervention might have helped them (or not) and what processes may have influenced intervention outcomes. Key practical recommendations for designing and delivering group-based behaviour-change interventions are presented, which may be used to improve future group-based health interventions.
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    Group-Based Diet and Physical Activity Weight-Loss Interventions: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials
    Borek, AJ ; Abraham, C ; Greaves, CJ ; Tarrant, M (WILEY, 2018-03-01)
    BACKGROUND: Many weight-loss interventions are delivered in groups but evidence on their effectiveness, and characteristics associated with effectiveness, is limited. We synthesised evidence on (1) design and delivery of group-based weight-loss interventions; (2) effectiveness; and (3) associations between intervention characteristics, change techniques, and effectiveness. METHODS: Five online databases were searched to May 2017 for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of group-based diet and/or physical activity interventions for overweight/obese adults (BMI ≥ 25). Intervention characteristics were synthesised narratively. Mean differences (MD) in weight loss were calculated using a random-effects meta-analysis, and sub-group analyses were conducted to identify moderators of effectiveness. RESULTS: Forty-seven RCTs reporting 60 evaluations of group-based interventions were included. MD in weight loss between intervention and control groups was -3.49 [95% CI -4.15, -2.84], -3.44 [-4.23, -2.85], and -2.56 kg [-3.79, -1.33] at follow-ups closest to 6, 12, and 24 months, respectively. Explicitly targeting weight loss, men-only groups providing feedback and dietary goals were significantly associated with greater effectiveness (p < .05). CONCLUSIONS: Diet and physical activity interventions delivered in groups are effective in promoting clinically meaningful weight loss at 12 months. Intervention design and effectiveness vary considerably between studies, and evidence on what optimises the effectiveness of group-based weight-loss interventions remains limited.
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    Social cognitive determinants of ecstasy use to target in evidence-based interventions: a meta-analytical review
    Peters, G-JY ; Kok, G ; Abraham, C (WILEY, 2008-01-01)
    AIMS: The health hazards and prevalence of ecstasy use have been documented in two decades of research, but no review reporting on potentially modifiable antecedents of use is available. The aim of this study was to integrate systematically research identifying cognitive correlates of ecstasy use. Such research has the potential to identify targets for evidence-based interventions designed to discourage use. METHODS: The databases PsycINFO and MedLine were searched, inclusion criteria applied to resulting hits, and descendency and ancestry approaches applied to the selected publications. Reported associations between cognitive determinants, including intention to use and ecstasy use measures, were synthesized by calculating a weighted mean effect size, r. RESULTS: The pattern of associations lent support both to the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) and the expectancy approach as descriptions of potentially useful determinants. Attitudes were associated most strongly with intention and use, followed by subjective norm and perceived behavioural control. CONCLUSIONS: Consideration of the strength of associations and the potential modifiability of identified cognitions suggests that evidence-based interventions to discourage ecstasy use should target negative expectancies, perceived behavioural control and anticipated regret, and consider tailoring perceived behavioural control elements.
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    Systematic review of reviews of intervention components associated with increased effectiveness in dietary and physical activity interventions
    Greaves, CJ ; Sheppard, KE ; Abraham, C ; Hardeman, W ; Roden, M ; Evans, PH ; Schwarz, P (BMC, 2011-02-18)
    BACKGROUND: To develop more efficient programmes for promoting dietary and/or physical activity change (in order to prevent type 2 diabetes) it is critical to ensure that the intervention components and characteristics most strongly associated with effectiveness are included. The aim of this systematic review of reviews was to identify intervention components that are associated with increased change in diet and/or physical activity in individuals at risk of type 2 diabetes. METHODS: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycInfo, and the Cochrane Library were searched for systematic reviews of interventions targeting diet and/or physical activity in adults at risk of developing type 2 diabetes from 1998 to 2008. Two reviewers independently selected reviews and rated methodological quality. Individual analyses from reviews relating effectiveness to intervention components were extracted, graded for evidence quality and summarised. RESULTS: Of 3856 identified articles, 30 met the inclusion criteria and 129 analyses related intervention components to effectiveness. These included causal analyses (based on randomisation of participants to different intervention conditions) and associative analyses (e.g. meta-regression). Overall, interventions produced clinically meaningful weight loss (3-5 kg at 12 months; 2-3 kg at 36 months) and increased physical activity (30-60 mins/week of moderate activity at 12-18 months). Based on causal analyses, intervention effectiveness was increased by engaging social support, targeting both diet and physical activity, and using well-defined/established behaviour change techniques. Increased effectiveness was also associated with increased contact frequency and using a specific cluster of "self-regulatory" behaviour change techniques (e.g. goal-setting, self-monitoring). No clear relationships were found between effectiveness and intervention setting, delivery mode, study population or delivery provider. Evidence on long-term effectiveness suggested the need for greater consideration of behaviour maintenance strategies. CONCLUSIONS: This comprehensive review of reviews identifies specific components which are associated with increased effectiveness in interventions to promote change in diet and/or physical activity. To maximise the efficiency of programmes for diabetes prevention, practitioners and commissioning organisations should consider including these components.
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    The Healthy Lifestyles Programme (HeLP), a novel school-based intervention to prevent obesity in school children: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial
    Wyatt, KM ; Lloyd, JJ ; Abraham, C ; Creanor, S ; Dean, S ; Densham, E ; Daurge, W ; Green, C ; Hillsdon, M ; Pearson, V ; Taylor, RS ; Tomlinson, R ; Logan, S (BMC, 2013-04-04)
    BACKGROUND: Over the last three decades there has been a substantial increase in the proportion of children who are overweight or obese. The Healthy Lifestyles Programme (HeLP) is a novel school-based intervention, using highly interactive and creative delivery methods to prevent obesity in children. METHODS/DESIGN: We describe a cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of HeLP. The intervention has been developed using intervention mapping (involving extensive stakeholder involvement) and has been guided by the Information, Motivation, Behavioural Skills model. HeLP includes creating a receptive environment, drama activities, goal setting and reinforcement activities and runs over three school terms. Piloting showed that 9 to 10 year olds were the most receptive and participative. This study aims to recruit 1,300 children from 32 schools (over half of which will have ≥19% of pupils eligible for free school meals) from the southwest of England. Participating schools will be randomised to intervention or control groups with baseline measures taken prior to randomisation. The primary outcome is change in body mass index standard deviation score (BMI SDS) at 24 months post baseline. Secondary outcomes include, waist circumference and percent body fat SDS and proportion of children classified as overweight or obese at 18 and 24 months and objectively measured physical activity and food intake at 18 months. Between-group comparisons will be made using random effects regression analysis taking into account the hierarchical nature of the study design. An economic evaluation will estimate the incremental cost-effectiveness of HeLP, compared to control, from the perspective of the National Health Service (NHS)/third party payer. An in-depth process evaluation will provide insight into how HeLP works, and whether there is any differential uptake or engagement with the programme. DISCUSSION: The results of the trial will provide evidence on the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of the Healthy Lifestyles Programme in affecting the weight status of children. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN15811706.
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    Promoting sexual and reproductive health among adolescents in southern and eastern Africa (PREPARE): project design and conceptual framework
    Aaro, LE ; Mathews, C ; Kaaya, S ; Katahoire, AR ; Onya, H ; Abraham, C ; Klepp, K-I ; Wubs, A ; Eggers, SM ; De Vries, H (BMC, 2014-01-18)
    BACKGROUND: Young people in sub-Saharan Africa are affected by the HIV pandemic to a greater extent than young people elsewhere and effective HIV-preventive intervention programmes are urgently needed. The present article presents the rationale behind an EU-funded research project (PREPARE) examining effects of community-based (school delivered) interventions conducted in four sites in sub-Saharan Africa. One intervention focuses on changing beliefs and cognitions related to sexual practices (Mankweng, Limpopo, South Africa). Another promotes improved parent-offspring communication on sexuality (Kampala, Uganda). Two further interventions are more comprehensive aiming to promote healthy sexual practices. One of these (Western Cape, South Africa) also aims to reduce intimate partner violence while the other (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) utilises school-based peer education. METHODS/DESIGN: A modified Intervention Mapping approach is used to develop all programmes. Cluster randomised controlled trials of programmes delivered to school students aged 12-14 will be conducted in each study site. Schools will be randomly allocated (after matching or stratification) to intervention and delayed intervention arms. Baseline surveys at each site are followed by interventions and then by one (Kampala and Limpopo) or two (Western Cape and Dar es Salaam) post-intervention data collections. Questionnaires include questions common for all sites and are partly based on a set of social cognition models previously applied to the study of HIV-preventive behaviours. Data from all sites will be merged in order to compare prevalence and associations across sites on core variables. Power is set to .80 or higher and significance level to .05 or lower in order to detect intervention effects. Intraclass correlations will be estimated from previous surveys carried out at each site. DISCUSSION: We expect PREPARE interventions to have an impact on hypothesized determinants of risky sexual behaviour and in Western Cape and Dar es Salaam to change sexual practices. Results from PREPARE will (i) identify modifiable cognitions and social processes related to risky sexual behaviour and (ii) identify promising intervention approaches among young adolescents in sub-Saharan cultures and contexts. TRIAL REGISTRATIONS: Controlled Trials ISRCTN56270821 (Cape Town); Controlled Trials ISRCTN10386599 (Limpopo); Clinical Trials NCT01772628 (Kampala); Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12613000900718 (Dar es Salaam).
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    The effectiveness of interventions targeting specific out-of-home food outlets: protocol for a systematic review.
    Hillier-Brown, FC ; Moore, HJ ; Lake, AA ; Adamson, AJ ; White, M ; Adams, J ; Araujo-Soares, V ; Abraham, C ; Summerbell, CD (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2014-02-24)
    BACKGROUND: Eating out of the home has been associated with higher intakes of energy and fat and lower micronutrient intakes, as well as the development of obesity. Out-of-home food outlets (OHFOs) and the foods obtained from these outlets are an ideal target for interventions to improve diet and tackle obesity. This systematic review will explore the evidence for the effectiveness of promoting healthy behaviour through interventions that modify food practices in specific OHFOs. METHODS/DESIGN: We will search the databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, ASSIA and the NHS Economic Evaluation Database for studies that have evaluated interventions conducted in an OHFO that aim to promote healthier menu offerings. OHFOs which are not openly accessible to the general public and supermarkets will be excluded. Included study designs will be randomised controlled trials, non-randomised controlled trials, controlled before-after studies, interrupted time series studies and evaluations of single interventions where outcome measures were assessed at least once pre and post-intervention (repeated measures studies). DISCUSSION: This systematic review aims to synthesise the available evidence with regard to interventions that aim to change specific OHFOs in order to promote healthier menu offerings. The findings of this review will provide information on the types of interventions that have been evaluated and the context in which they are set, and provide insights into what interventions, and intervention functions, are most effective in different OHFO settings, along with any important innovation, implementation and cost implications.The review has been registered with PROSPERO (registration no. CRD42013006931).
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    Open-mindedness can decrease persuasion amongst adolescents: The role of self-affirmation
    Good, A ; Harris, PR ; Jessop, D ; Abraham, C (WILEY, 2015-05-01)
    OBJECTIVES: Self-affirmation (e.g., by reflecting on important personal values) has been found to promote more open-minded appraisal of threatening health messages in at-risk adults. However, it is unclear how self-affirmation affects adolescents and whether it has differential effects on the impact of these messages amongst those at relatively lower and higher risk. The current study explored moderation by risk. DESIGN: Participants were randomly assigned to either a self-affirmation or a control condition before receiving a health message concerning physical activity. METHODS: Older adolescents (N = 125) completed a self-affirmation or control writing task before reading about the health consequences of not meeting recommendations to be physically active for at least 60 min daily. Most of the sample did not achieve these levels of activity (98%, N = 123). Consequently, the message informed these participants that - unless they changed their behaviour - they would be at higher risk of heart disease. Participants completed measures of responses to the message and behaviour-specific cognitions (e.g., self-efficacy) for meeting the recommendations. RESULTS: For relatively inactive participants, self-affirmation was associated with increased persuasion. However, for those who were moderately active (but not meeting recommendations), those in the self-affirmation condition were less persuaded by the message. CONCLUSIONS: Whilst self-affirmation can increase message acceptance, there are circumstances when the open-mindedness it induces may decrease persuasion. The evidence provided in this study suggests that caution may be needed when recommendations are challenging and it could be considered reasonable to be sceptical about the need to change behaviour. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? Self-affirmation can facilitate open-mindedness and sensitivity to whether health messages suggest high or low risk on the basis of current behaviour. What does this study add? Demonstrates that self-affirmation effects can be moderated by the extent of failure to meet recommendations. Shows that self-affirmation can be associated with less persuasion when challenging health guidelines are used.
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    School-based sexual health education interventions to prevent STI/HIV in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis
    Sani, AS ; Abraham, C ; Denford, S ; Ball, S (BMC, 2016-10-10)
    BACKGROUND: School-based sexual health education has the potential to provide an inclusive and comprehensive approach to promoting sexual health among young people. We reviewed evaluations of school-based sexual health education interventions in sub-Saharan Africa to assess effectiveness in reducing sexually transmitted infections and promoting condom use. METHODS: We searched ten electronic databases, hand-searched key journals, and reference lists of included articles for potential studies. Data were extracted on outcomes, intervention characteristics, methods and study characteristics indicative of methodological quality. Where possible, data were synthesized using random effect meta-analysis. Intervention features found predominantly in effective interventions were noted. RESULTS: The initial search retrieved 21634 potentially relevant citations. Of these, 51 papers reporting on 31 interventions were included. No evaluation reported statistically significant effects on the incidence or prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Herpes Simplex Virus 2 infections. However, intervention participants reported statistically significant greater condom use in both randomised controlled trials and non-randomised trials for short (less than 6 months) follow-up periods (OR = 1.62, 95 % CI = 1.03-2.55 and OR = 2.88, 95 % CI = 1.41-5.90 respectively). For intermediate (6-10 months) and long-term (more than 10 months) follow-up periods, the effect was statistically significant (OR = 1.40, 95 % CI = 1.16-1.68) and marginally significant (OR = 1.22, 95 % CI = 0.99-1.50) among the randomised trials respectively. Only 12 of the 31 interventions reported implementation details, out of which seven reported on fidelity. CONCLUSION: School-based sexual health education has the potential to promote condom use among young people in sub-Saharan Africa. However, further work is needed to develop and evaluate interventions that have measurable effects on sexually transmitted infections.
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    Applying the behaviour change technique (BCT) taxonomy v1: a study of coder training
    Wood, CE ; Richardson, M ; Johnston, M ; Abraham, C ; Francis, J ; Hardeman, W ; Michie, S (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2015-06-01)
    Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy v1 (BCTTv1) has been used to detect active ingredients of interventions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate effectiveness of user training in improving reliable, valid and confident application of BCTTv1 to code BCTs in intervention descriptions. One hundred sixty-one trainees (109 in workshops and 52 in group tutorials) were trained to code frequent BCTs. The following measures were taken before and after training: (i) inter-coder agreement, (ii) trainee agreement with expert consensus, (iii) confidence ratings and (iv) coding competence. Coding was assessed for 12 BCTs (workshops) and for 17 BCTs (tutorials). Trainees completed a course evaluation. Methods improved agreement with expert consensus (p < .05) but not inter-coder agreement (p = .08, p = .57, respectively) and increased confidence for BCTs assessed (both p < .05). Methods were as effective as one another at improving coding competence (p = .55). Training was evaluated positively. The training improved agreement with expert consensus, confidence for BCTs assessed, coding competence but not inter-coder agreement. This varied according to BCT.