To account for theory evolution, the Picker has 3 modes:
You can compare the results of the modes easily. After you answer the 10 questions, the Picker will keep your answers if you switch modes.
See also: Think Flexibly
Please read the 10 questions carefully. Some of them may seem very similar, but they have slight differences that affect theory selection.
You may need to do some audience research to answer the questions with confidence. For a target audience composed of various subgroups, answer the questions for the most important subgroup first, and then answer them again for the next subgroup, and so on.
Caution: Answering questions 1-9 can be confusing if your behavior change goal is to stop a negative behavior like smoking. Until you get to question #10, thinking about helping audience members resist the negative behavior or engage in a healthy alternative behavior can make the TheoryPicker questions easier to answer.
There are trade-offs between:
In practice, these tradeoffs often mean choosing between:
Expert opinion is divided on this issue.
Each theory included in this tool specifies a coherent pathway to behavior change. The two best reasons for keeping the theoretical pathways intact as you plan and evaluate your program are:
So some experts suggest addressing and measuring all the major elements of one theory well, and adding a few promising constructs from other theories only if time allows.13 Other experts who have designed successful behavior change programs advise using an alternative approach -- moving directly from a behavior change objective to major plausible determinants from a variety of theories.4,5,6
TheoryPicker will give more than one theory the same numeric rank if your answers resulted in a tie. You could combine the theories, but be aware that if you limit the number of constructs you address you can focus your intervention and save resources. Don’t break the tie just by picking the theory that seems easiest to use – you might miss opportunities and waste time and resources in the long run.
Picking a theory narrowed the universe of potential psychosocial mechanisms of behavior change to a short list. You still need to identify intervention strategies and tactics for bringing the behavior change about. For ideas about how to put theories into practice, look for case examples in the literature on your health problem. You can also consult articles,17 books,4, and online resources that organize potential behavior change strategies and tactics by ecological system level, behavior change objective, and/or theoretical construct.
After you have selected a general theory-based strategy, there may be additional, more narrowly focused theories that can provide tactical direction.12 For example:
Theories are made up of “constructs” (e.g., hypothetical factors such as stress, knowledge, social support and intentions). There are links to the sets of constructs that make up each of the 6 theories that are ranked by the TheoryPicker on the Theory List screen.
For examples of ways to measure the constructs from any of the theories, go to the GEM system maintained by the National Cancer Institute at NIH, or Health Communication Outcomes published by Public Health Ontario.
Search online for other sites that offer sample measures for particular theories (e.g., for the Transtheoretical Model).