Behavior change interventions: the potential of ontologies for advancing science and practice

Kai R. Larsen, Susan Michie, Eric B. Hekler, Bryan Gibson, Donna Spruijt-Metz, David Ahern, Heather Cole-Lewis, Rebecca J.Bartlett Ellis, Bradford Hesse, Richard P. Moser, Jean Yi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

A central goal of behavioral medicine is the creation of evidence-based interventions for promoting behavior change. Scientific knowledge about behavior change could be more effectively accumulated using “ontologies.” In information science, an ontology is a systematic method for articulating a “controlled vocabulary” of agreed-upon terms and their inter-relationships. It involves three core elements: (1) a controlled vocabulary specifying and defining existing classes; (2) specification of the inter-relationships between classes; and (3) codification in a computer-readable format to enable knowledge generation, organization, reuse, integration, and analysis. This paper introduces ontologies, provides a review of current efforts to create ontologies related to behavior change interventions and suggests future work. This paper was written by behavioral medicine and information science experts and was developed in partnership between the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Technology Special Interest Group (SIG) and the Theories and Techniques of Behavior Change Interventions SIG. In recent years significant progress has been made in the foundational work needed to develop ontologies of behavior change. Ontologies of behavior change could facilitate a transformation of behavioral science from a field in which data from different experiments are siloed into one in which data across experiments could be compared and/or integrated. This could facilitate new approaches to hypothesis generation and knowledge discovery in behavioral science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-22
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Keywords

  • Behavior change interventions
  • Behaviors
  • Controlled vocabularies
  • Mechanisms of action
  • Ontologies
  • Taxonomies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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    Larsen, K. R., Michie, S., Hekler, E. B., Gibson, B., Spruijt-Metz, D., Ahern, D., Cole-Lewis, H., Ellis, R. J. B., Hesse, B., Moser, R. P., & Yi, J. (2017). Behavior change interventions: the potential of ontologies for advancing science and practice. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 40(1), 6-22. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-016-9768-0