Nothing so practical as theory: a rapid review of the use of behaviour change theory in family planning interventions involving men and boys

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BioMed Central - Springer Nature
Background: There is growing recognition of the need for interventions that effectively involve men and boys to promote family planning behaviours. Evidence suggests that the most effective behavioural interventions in this field are founded on theoretical principles of behaviour change and gender equality. However, there are few evidence syntheses on how theoretical approaches are applied in this context that might guide best practice in intervention development. This review addresses this gap by examining the application and reporting of theories of behaviour change used by family planning interventions involving men and boys. Methods: We adopted a systematic rapid review approach, scoping findings of a previously reported evidence and gap map of intervention reviews (covering 2007–2018) and supplementing this with searches of academic databases and grey literature for reviews and additional studies published between 2007 and 2020. Studies were eligible for inclusion if their title, abstract or keywords referred to a psychosocial or behavioural intervention targeting family planning behaviours, involved males in delivery, and detailed their use of an intervention theory of change. Results: From 941 non-duplicate records identified, 63 were eligible for inclusion. Most records referenced interventions taking place in low- and middle-income countries (65%). There was a range of intervention theories of change reported, typically targeting individual-level behaviours and sometimes comprising several behaviour change theories and strategies. The most commonly identified theories were Social Cognitive Theory, Social Learning Theory, the Theory of Planned Behaviour, and the Information-Motivation-Behaviour Skills (IMB) Model. A minority of records explicitly detailed gender-informed elements within their theory of change. Conclusion: Our findings highlight the range of prevailing theories of change used for family planning interventions involving men and boys, and the considerable variability in their reporting. Programmers and policy makers would be best served by unified reporting and testing of intervention theories of change. There remains a need for consistent reporting of these to better understand how complex interventions that seek to involve men and boys in family planning may lead to behaviour change.
Eimear Ruane‑McAteer, Maria Lohan, Mark Tomlinson, Mike Clarke, ACE: Reproductive Health Innovation, CERHI, Nigeria, Reproductive Health, Review, Theory of change, Behaviour change theory, Interventions, Family planning
Robinson M, Aventin Á, Hanratty J, Ruane-McAteer E, Tomlinson M, Clarke M, Okonofua F, Lohan M. Nothing so practical as theory: a rapid review of the use of behaviour change theory in family planning interventions involving men and boys. Reprod Health. 2021 Jun 13;18(1):126. doi: 10.1186/s12978-021-01173-0. PMID: 34120630; PMCID: PMC8201745.