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Future directions of multiple behavior change research


Non-communicable diseases (i.e., chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and obesity) result in 36 million deaths each year. Individuals’ habitual participation in a single health-risk behaviors substantially contribute to morbidity and mortality (e.g., tobacco use, daily fast food intake, etc.); however, more concerning is the impact of typically co-occurring or clustering of multiple health-risk behaviors. This burden can be minimized through successful cessation of health-risk behaviors and adoption of healthy behaviors; namely healthy lifestyle adoption or multiple health behavior change (MHBC). MHBC is a developing field and future research recommendations are provided to advance MHBC research. A valid measure of MHBC (i.e., lifestyle) is warranted to provide the needed basis for MHBC investigations and evaluations. MHBC is thought to occur through shared co-variation of underlying motivating mechanisms, but how these relationships influence behavior remains unclear. A better understanding of the relationship between behaviors and the related motivating mechanisms (and potential cross-relationship of influences) is needed. Future research should also aim to improve lifestyles through understanding how to change multiple health behaviors. Finally, MHBC research should target the development of sustainable interventions which result in lasting effects (e.g., capacity, systems, policy and environmental changes), with dissemination considered during development. Focusing MHBC research in these areas will increase our understanding and maximize the impact on the health of populations.

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Correspondence to Claudio R. Nigg.

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Karly Geller, Sonia Lippke and Claudio R. Nigg declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures followed were in accordance with ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.

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Karly Geller, Sonia Lippke and Claudio R. Nigg have contributed equally to the manuscript.

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Geller, K., Lippke, S. & Nigg, C.R. Future directions of multiple behavior change research. J Behav Med 40, 194–202 (2017).

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  • Multiple health behavior change
  • Behaviors
  • Future
  • Research