Using behavioural science to explore patient perceptions

Andria Hanbury (York Health Economics Consortium, University of York, York, UK)
Hannah Wood (York Health Economics Consortium, University of York, York, UK)

International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing

ISSN: 1750-6123

Publication date: 5 November 2018



This paper aims to develop a behavioural science informed communication strategy aimed at health professionals and patients promoting best practice recommendations regarding the use of specialist liquid medicines for elderly people with swallowing difficulties.


The medicine prescribing, formulation and administration related challenges and experiences of health professionals and elderly patients with swallowing difficulties were identified through a pragmatic literature search. Key findings across the papers were synthesised into themes, before being linked to domains from a behavioural science framework. Published recommendations for behaviour change techniques that can be used to target the domains were then mapped to the domains. Guidance on how to develop a communication strategy, drawing on the insight gained from the literature review and the behavioural science recommendations, and designed to stimulate change in health-care professionals’ and patients’ behaviours, was then developed.


In total, 13 themes emerged across 15 papers, including “patient and health professional roles and remits”. These themes were linked to nine domains from the framework, highlighting the range of individual, social and environmental factors influencing patients’ and health professionals’ perceptions and experiences. A summary table, mapping the domains and underpinning themes to recommended behaviour change techniques, was used to develop the subsequent communication strategy recommendations. Recommendations include using techniques such as providing social processes of encourage, pressure and support to change patients’ and health professionals’ perceptions of their roles/responsibilities in medicines prescribing and administration, delivered via, for example, an educational leaflet and/or online training.

Practical implications

The summary table and guidance can inform development of an evidence-based strategy for communicating best practice recommendations regarding the use of liquid medicines for elderly patients with swallowing difficulties, tailored to the perceptions and challenges identified.


The behavioural science approach is less established within the pharmaceutical industry for promotion of best practice recommendations and related products, yet it offers a framework for an evidence-based and systematic approach that goes beyond a literature review or focus group.



This research was funded by an educational grant from Rosemont Pharmaceuticals Ltd.


Hanbury, A. and Wood, H. (2018), "Using behavioural science to explore patient perceptions", International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 463-485.



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