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COM-B at a glance

What is COM-B? Why and how do we use it?

Human behaviour can be incredibly complex. If we want to change behaviour, we need to first understand what drives it in the first place. COM-B provides us with a behavioural change model to do just that. It's a powerful tool to transform behaviour, and it's at the core of our work here at LiveWell Dorset.

What is COM-B?

In COM-B, behaviour (B) is understood as an interaction between three necessary conditions: capability (C), opportunity (O) and motivation (M).

So, let’s break this down:
  • Capability is the psychological capacity (such as knowledge and understanding) and physical ability (including special skills) to enact a behaviour. This could include the physical ability to cook meals from scratch, or awareness of why certain behaviours are good or bad for us.
  • Opportunity refers to the physical and social environment that enables a behaviour. This could include city planning conducive to active travel, or a supportive social circle that encourages healthy behaviour (such as Our LiveWell!).
  • Motivation is made up of the internal mechanisms that set in motion or inhibit a behaviour. This could include the desire to participate in a sport, or the pleasure (emotion) of engaging in a healthy (or indeed unhealthy) activity.
  • And finally, behaviour is understood as physical action that occurs in the body and is controlled by the brain; it’s anything a person does in response to external or internal cues. The intention to eat more fruit, instead of sweet snacks, is not a behaviour – but the act of eating fruit is.

For a person to engage in a particular behaviour, they must be capable, have the opportunity and be motivated to do it, more so than any competing behaviour at the time.

How do we harness COM-B to transform the lives of your patients?

By understanding the drivers of behaviour – and barriers to healthy living - we can tailor our behavioural support to deliver the most evidence-based interventions.

At LiveWell Dorset, we recognise that people face all sorts of barriers to adopting healthy lifestyle changes. The COM-B model gives us the insight that all barriers fall into the categories of capability, opportunity or motivation. This allows us to draw on evidence linking barriers with suitable interventions, so we can work with our clients to employ behaviour change techniques that are most likely to help them overcome their specific barriers.

The success of our one-on-one services shows us that lifestyle change is possible - and powerful. 

Want to help us deliver more inspiring results in Dorset?

Register, or request a contact for your patient today - see the difference for yourself. 

How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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