Intervention development: understanding risk and behaviour

Research theme leads

Doctor chat

About this theme

Work in this theme builds on our existing research programme which has pioneered theory-, evidence- and person-based methods to develop effective interventions with impact for policy and practice. We will:

  • provide methodological expertise in intervention co-design informed by behavioural and social science theory and empirical evidence
  • work closely with other theme leads to refine the pathway from intervention design to evaluation and large-scale implementation
  • focus on ensuring that all interventions are accessible to and appropriate for diverse communities and contexts.


Short-term objectives include:

  • lead a cross-cutting HPRU Behavioural Science Network, including establishing a learning network delivering workshops, webinars, toolkits and other online materials;
  • in collaboration with our NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) West and other theme leads, develop new methods and systems to integrate theory, evidence and co-design throughout the intervention development and evaluation cycle;
  • conduct and develop new studies on antibiotic stewardship;
  • understand risk and behaviours and develop interventions to reduce the burden of disease (such as the impacts of poor air quality and gastrointestinal infections) with other HPRUs;
  • collaborate on studies to develop better communication of information on health promotion and infection risk through digital platforms.

Longer term objectives are to:

  • understand behaviours and attitudes associated with vaccine hesitancy in the UK; 
  • develop novel behaviour change interventions to improve the uptake of and adherence to interventions designed to reduce infectious disease risks in partnership with other HPRUs;
  • provide behavioural science and qualitative methodological expertise on studies of risk and intervention development led by other HPRUs and with other NIHR infrastructure;
  • support and lead external grant applications developed by our HPRU;
  • continue to provide leadership on studies of risk and intervention development and contribute to studies led by other HPRUs;
  • continue to lead external grant applications on testing interventions developed by our theme;
  • conduct health and social inequalities reviews of ours and other HPRU’s intervention development work.

Key projects and outputs

Antimicrobial stewardship: Using novel rapid design methods to develop new interventions to improve antimicrobial stewardship, involving participants with high and low levels of literacy and from different socio-cultural backgrounds.

Environment: in collaboration with the NIHR HPRU in Environmental Change and Health, we will pursue projects in two key areas:

  • identifying barriers and facilitators to engagement with advice for individuals who are vulnerable to extreme weather events and incidents of poor air quality;
  • conducting research to inform the co-design of behaviour change interventions to increase the uptake of active travel options which have been shown to reduce exposure to traffic-related air pollution and have secondary positive health effects.

Co-design individual and choice architecture interventions: in collaboration with other HPRUs.

Research examples

Work to date has focused on interventions to improve infection prevention and control and reduce antimicrobial resistance: 

EEPRIS parent intervention: An experimental study testing a parent-targeted online intervention to reduce primary care attendance

Identifying key behavioural, cultural, economic and social influences of antibiotic use in China: Scoping review of the literature

Implementing brief practice-level interventions to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing in general practice

Research team