Use of behaviour change techniques in lifestyle change interventions for people with intellectual disabilities: a systematic review

Mariël Willems*, Thessa I. M. Hilgenkamp, Else Havik, A Waninge, Craig A Melville

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: People with intellectual disabilities (ID) experience more health problems and have different lifestyle change needs, compared with the general population.

AIMS: To improve lifestyle change interventions for people with ID, this review examined how behaviour change techniques (BCTs) were applied in interventions aimed at physical activity, nutrition or physical activity and nutrition, and described their quality.

METHODS AND PROCEDURES: After a broad search and detailed selection process, 45 studies were included in the review. For coding BCTs, the CALO-RE taxonomy was used. To assess the quality of the interventions, the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale was used. Extracted data included general study characteristics and intervention characteristics.

OUTCOMES AND RESULTS: All interventions used BCTs, although theory-driven BCTs were rarely used. The most frequently used BCTs were 'provide information on consequences of behaviour in general' and 'plan social support/social change'. Most studies were of low quality and a theoretical framework was often missing.

CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: This review shows that BCTs are frequently applied in lifestyle change interventions. To further improve effectiveness, these lifestyle change interventions could benefit from using a theoretical framework, a detailed intervention description and an appropriate and reliable intervention design which is tailored to people with ID.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-268
Number of pages13
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2017
Externally publishedYes


  • intellectual disabilities
  • health promotion
  • lifestyle
  • physical activities
  • nutrition
  • physiotherapy

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