Methods for Changing Environmental Conditions for Health: influencing organisations, key actors and stakeholders

Workshop description

In planning health promotion interventions, theories from the behavioral sciences are applied to, first, understand behavior and, second, change behavior. Such interventions apply theoretical methods for change, directed at the target population or at the environment. A theoretical method, or behavior change technique, is a general technique or process for influencing changes in the determinants of behavior of the target population or of behavior of the environmental decision maker (Bartholomew, et al., 2011; Abraham & Michie, 2008). Practical applications are specific techniques for practical use of theoretical methods in ways that fit the intervention population and the context in which the intervention will be conducted (Bartholomew, et al., 2011).

There is an increasing interest in systematic descriptions or taxonomies of health promotion interventions, the theoretical methods they contain, and the determinants that are targeted for change (Stavri & Michie, 2012). However, most of these taxonomies focus on individual behavior change and only a few also include behavior change of environmental agents (Bartholomew, et al., 2011; Khan et al., 2009) at the interpersonal, organizational, community and policy levels. Moreover, translating methods into applications demands a sufficient understanding of the theory behind the method, especially the theoretical parameters under which the theoretical process is effective or not (Schaalma & Kok, 2009).

Environmental conditions are not likely to be under the direct control of the individuals at risk for the health problem. They are controlled by decision makers at different environmental levels, external agents such as peers, teachers, managers, and other gatekeepers (Kok et al., 2008). To select methods for environmental conditions, the first thing to do is to find out who may be in a position to make the expected change. The planner has to identify the desired behaviors for the agent who will actually change the environmental condition. The health promoter then applies methods for influencing the determinants of the agent’s behavior using methods which are appropriate for changing determinants at environmental levels.

The focus of this Synergy workshop is on methods for environmental change.

All participants will be asked in advance to bring in their research and practice experiences, discussion topics, and successes and failures with trying to change environmental conditions for health. Every half day in the workshop includes an introduction in the theme, a brief theoretical background, followed by contributions from participants: empirical research examples, practical experiences, theoretical ideas and discussion. At the end of the workshop, a brief summary of the state of the art and the most promising venues for future research will be produced.


  • Introduction in the ecological model of health promotion: agents at environmental levels;
  • Theories about environmental levels: e.g. social network, organizational development, social action, agenda setting, and stakeholder theories;
  • Theoretical methods for change (behavior change techniques) at environmental levels: theories, definitions, parameters and examples;
  • Theoretical methods for change (behavior change techniques) at environmental levels: the role of individual level methods, bundling of methods, differences in targets, lack of clear parameters, measurements of change;
  • Planning the implementation of health promotion interventions as an organizational change challenge; planning effect evaluation of environmental change.


More information on the facilitators can be found at their websites (Gerjo Kok and Rob Ruiter) and at Google Scholar Citations (Gerjo Kok and Rob Ruiter).


Note that at this moment, the price is not yet known. We can guarantee however, that the price will not exceed € 250,-. We will update the price here as soon as possible, and will of course mail everybody who has already applied at that point. Note that participants from those countries listed under the categories low-income economies, lower-middle-income economies and upper-middle-income economies by the World Bank are qualified for reduced fees, which are half the regular fee. A list of these countries is available here.


A small number of grants are available for attendants of the Synergy workshop against workshop registration, conference fee, accommodation and travel. See the grants page for further details.


  • Abraham, C., & Michie, S. (2008). A taxonomy of behavior change techniques used in interventions. Health Psychology, 27, 379–387.
  • Bartholomew, L. K., Parcel, G. S., Kok, G., Gottlieb, N. H., & Fernandez, M. E. (2011). Planning Health Promotion Programs. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Khan, L. K., Sobush, K., Keener, D., Goodman, K., Lowry, A., Kakietek, J., et al. (2009). Recommended community strategies and measurements to prevent obesity in the United States. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 58(RR07), 1–26.
  • Kok, G., Gottlieb, N. H., Commers, M., & Smerecnik, C. (2008). The ecological approach in health promotion programs: A decade later. American Journal of Health Promotion, 22, 437–442.
  • Schaalma, H. & Kok, G., 2009. Decoding health education interventions: The times are a-changin' . Psychology & Health, 24, 5-9.
  • Stavri, Z. & Michie, S. (2012). Classification systems in behavioural science: current systems and lessons from the natural, medical and social sciences. Health Psychology Review, 6, 113-140.