LiveWell Dorset and COM-B: Validation

Newcastle University’s process evaluation of COM-B model application in LiveWell Dorset

LiveWell Dorset has taken a unique approach to the application of the COM-B model of behaviour change. Part of the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) (Michie et al., 2011), the model is intended to support behaviour change intervention design. In an innovative twist, here at LiveWell Dorset we use the model to help tailor our coaching support to individuals.

Using the BCW, barriers to change in our four pathways (weight, physical activity, smoking and alcohol) have been mapped to the relevant segment of the COM-B model and linked with the behaviours change techniques (BCTs) that the evidence suggests is most likely to help overcome that barrier. Our coaches use this insight to offer a range of personalised yet evidence-based BCTs to clients to support their lifestyle change. Clients can choose which BCTs to use and how they will use them.

Recognising the degree of subjectivity in mapping a barrier to the appropriate COM-B segment, Public Health Dorset commissioned the Fuse team at Newcastle University to evaluate the process. Fuse conducted an exercise whereby coders in the research team independently mapped barriers to COM-B segments. On comparison with LWD’s coding of barriers to COM-B, they recorded 88% agreement, with disagreements being resolved through discussion. Fuse concluded that the LiveWell Dorset's interpretation of the COM-B model is valid and reliable. A paper on this evaluation is due to be published in an academic journal in 2020. 

If you'd like your patient to access coaching or any of LiveWell Dorset's other support offers, please register your patient or invite them to register.

Lauren Bishop, Health Programme Advisor

It's great to have assurance of the robustness of our behaviour change framework. We're passionate about applying the latest behavioural science to bring a friendly and personalised yet evidence-based approach to supporting our clients.


Michie, S., van Stralen, M. M., & West, R. (2011). The behaviour change wheel: A new method for characterising and designing behaviour change interventions. Implementation Science: IS, 6(1), 42. doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-42

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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