Creating and breaking habit in healthcare professional behaviours to improve healthcare and health

Sebastian Potthoff, Nicola McCleary, Falko F. Sniehotta, Justin Presseau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


Healthcare professionals (HCPs) prescribe, provide advice, conduct examinations, perform surgical procedures, and engage in a range of clinical behaviours. Their clinical actions are characteristically performed repeatedly—sometimes multiple times per day—in the same physical locations with the same colleagues and patients, under constant time pressure, and competing demands. This repetition under pressure in a stable setting provides ideal circumstances for creating contingencies between physical and social cues and clinical actions. HCP behaviour provides an ideal setting in which to advance theory, methods, and interventions to better understand habit formation and habit reversal. Contemporary theoretical and methodological development in the psychology of habit has begun to be applied to understand and promote the formation, breaking, and replacement of habitual behaviour in HCPs. This chapter highlights key theoretical approaches, methods, and intervention techniques that have been applied to conceptualize, measure, develop, and break habit and automaticity in HCPs. These insights have the potential to synergistically contribute novel perspectives to the wider habit literature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Psychology of Habit
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Mechanisms, Change, and Contexts
EditorsBas Verplanken
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783319975290
ISBN (Print)9783319975283, 9783030073688
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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