Theory-comparison and multiple-behavior research: common themes advancing health behavior research.
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Research that seeks to compare and contrast theories of behavior change and assess the utility of a particular theoretical model for changing two or more health-related behaviors is critical to advancing health behavior research. Theory-comparison can help us learn more about the processes by which people change and maintain health behaviors than does study of any single theory alone and thus has the potential to better guide the development of intervention. Multiple-behavior interventions promise to have much greater impact on public health than single-behavior interventions. However, theory-comparison and multiple-behavior research presents several emerging challenges. These include finding new ways to enhance recruitment and retention, especially among diverse populations; improving treatment fidelity; developing common metrics across behaviors that can be used to advance the measurement and assessment of behavioral change; and expanding the reach and translation of intervention approaches that have demonstrated efficacy. This paper discusses the rationale for conducting theory-comparison and multiple-behavior research and presents several common themes that have emerged from the work of the National Institutes of Health Behavior Change Consortium (BCC). The activities of each BCC workgroup and the potential contribution of each to these common themes to advance health behavior research are also described.