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DBC (Designing for Behavior Change)

Full name

Designing for Behavior Change.


DBC grew out of AED’s BEHAVE Framework, the CORE Group’s Social and Behaviour Change Working Group, Food Security and Nutrition Network Social and Behaviour Change Task Force, Food for the Hungry, TOP, etc. origins in 2000.

Sector/behaviour focus

WASH, Food Security, Agriculture, Nutrition, Natural Resource Management, Gender.

Focus within the process

Analysis and design, including identifying monitoring indicators but does not include implementation of BC activities, or detail on choosing activities or developing communications.

What’s special

The DBC approach provides a behaviour-change framework that helps the user build up a strategy for behaviour change step-by-step:

  1. Define the behaviour to influence;
  2. Describe the group practising the behaviour (the priority group) and others who may influence those people (influencing groups);
  3. Identify the determinants of behaviour;
  4. Define what changes need to occur in people’s perceptions of benefits and barriers to the intended behaviour;
  5. Choose activities to implement in order to influence people’s perceptions and thereby create behaviour change. The approach also uses a standardised form of barrier analysis to identify the most important behavioural determinants, that can be used by non-specialists after a five-day training.

Supporting BC theories

Process of Planned Change (Stages of Change) // Social cognition models (Health Belief Model // Protection Motivation Theory // Self-efficacy Theory // Theory of Reasoned Action // Theory of Planned Behavior).

Time required

12-15 days.

Expertise required

No specialist expertise is required, but the process should be managed by someone who has completed the 6-day DBC training and / or the 5-day Barrier Analysis training.

Training materials


Most documents are available in English and French, some also in Arabic, Spanish, Bangla.

Case studies and examples

  • Behavior Bank – results from Barrier Analysis and Doer/NonDoer Studies conducted by food security and other practitioners globally.
  • Barrier Analysis Questionnaires – a collection of 46 questionnaires, for research on 46 different behaviours.
  • Practitioners’ DBC Frameworks – this site shares the DBC frameworks that were developed by various organisations based on the formative research they conducted.



1. Define the ideal BehaviourChoose the behaviour(s) to promote, focusing on those that have potential to contribute most to programme objectives (nutrition, WASH, health, food security etc.) and those that are hard to change and therefore require careful analysis and design. Formulate a well-written Behaviour Statement. From this point on, focus on one behaviour at a time.
2. Identify and describe the priority audienceIt is those people who practice the behaviour or who are responsible for its practice:
1. Demographic features
2. Daily Routine: How most people spend their time during the day
3. Something most group members want
4. Something that keeps the group from practicing the Behaviour (barriers)
5. What the Priority Group knows, feels and practices regarding the Behaviour
6. Readiness of most group members to adopt the new Behaviour (stage of change)
7. Gender of the priority group.
3. Carry out the research to identify the most important determinants of the behaviourA Barrier Analysis survey is carried out to identify what is preventing the Priority Group from adopting the behaviour and what might enable behaviour change. It uses survey questionnaires to compare the perceptions of those in the Priority Group that do the Behaviour (Doers) and those in the Priority Group that do not (Non-doers).
4. Analyze the findingsThe barrier-analysis survey results are tabulated, coded and then analysed to identify those determinants for which there is a statistically significant and important difference in the number of responses given by doers and non-doers, i.e. which are the most powerful determinants that facilitate or impede the change intended.
5. Add more detail to the definition of the Priority GroupThe findings from the barrier analysis and any complementary research are used to refine the definition of the priority group so as better to address them through behaviour-change activities.
6. Identify and describe the Influencing GroupsThe findings from the barrier analysis and any complementary research are used to identify and describe the people who have influence on the Priority Group's perceptions and behaviours.


7. Write the Bridges to ActivitiesThe results of the barrier analysis are used to identify the changes in perception of barriers and enablers or changes in ability to perform the intended behaviour that are required in order for change to occur. There is usually one bridge to activity for each determinant.
8. Choose Activities that address the Bridges to ActivitiesBehaviour-change activities are chosen or designed to create the changes in perceptions and abilities identified in the Bridges to Activities. Activities must be:
a) relevant to the bridges to activities,
b) feasible, and
c) acceptable to the priority group.
9. Establish indicators to monitor effectivenessIndicators are chosen that can be measured as part of the monitoring system for the project into which the behaviour-change component fits, if possible. SMART behaviour-change objectives help set targets for progress and identify potential gaps between targets and achievements during implementation.
10. Complete the Behavior change strategy with details for implementationA full implementation plan is developed, including time lines, resources, budget, training plans etc. The implementation plan identifies a coherent set of activities that work together to achieve the behaviour-chage objective, and which may also be used to influence other behaviours as part of a more complex multi-behaviour / multi-sector programme.
11. If necessary, develop a communication planMessages and communications channels are defined based on the determinants identified through barrier analysis and the bridges to activities.

Implementation, monitoring and evaluation

The approach does not provide specific contents for this step.