Use of behaviour change techniques by direct support professionals to support healthy lifestyle behaviour for people with moderate to profound intellectual disabilities

Annelies Overwijk Annette A. J. van der Putten Cees P. van der Schans Mariël Willems Thessa I. M. Hilgenkamp Aly Waninge

First published: 08 December 2020

Source: Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities – Wiley Online Library



Behaviour change techniques (BCTs) can be employed to support a healthy lifestyle for people with intellectual disabilities. The aim of this study is to determine whether and which BCTs are used by direct support professionals (DSPs) for supporting healthy lifestyle behaviour of people with moderate to profound intellectual disabilities.


Direct support professionals (n = 18) were observed in their daily work using audio‐visual recordings. To code BCTs, the Coventry Aberdeen London Refined (CALO‐RE‐NL) taxonomy was employed.


Direct support professionals used 33 BCTs out of 42. The most used BCTs were as follows: ‘feedback on performance’, ‘instructions on how to perform the behaviour’, ‘doing together’, ‘rewards on successful behaviour’, ‘reward effort towards behaviour’, ‘DSP changes environment’, ‘graded tasks’, ‘prompt practice’ and ‘model/demonstrate behaviour’.


Although a variety of BCTs is used by DSPs in their support of people with moderate to profound intellectual disabilities when facilitating healthy lifestyle behaviour, they rely on nine of them.

Funding informationThis study was funded by the Dutch organization for health research and development, ZonMw, in the program ‘Gewoon Bijzonder, Nationaal Programma Gehandicapten’ (grant number: 80‐84500‐98‐118) and the ‘Innovatie Werkplaats Active Ageing van mensen met VB’, a collaboration between the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Alfa‐college, and care provider organizations for people with intellectual disabilities.

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