Changing Physician Behavior With Implementation Intentions: Closing the Gap Between Intentions and Actions

Daniel Saddawi-Konefka, Daniel J. Schumacher, Keith H. Baker, Jonathan E. Charnin, Peter Gollwitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In medical education, even well-intentioned learners struggle to change their practice. This intention–action gap is a well-described phenomenon. Strong commitment to changing behaviors is important, but by itself it is only a modest predictor of goal attainment.Implementation intentions are an extensively studied strategy from cognitive psychology that have been shown to close the intention–action gap and increase goal attainment across myriad domains. Implementation intentions are “if–then” plans that specify an anticipated future situation and a planned response—“If I encounter situation X, then I will respond with action Y.” They differ from simple goals, which specify only a desired behavior or outcome—“I intend to perform action Z.” Despite this subtle difference, they have shown substantial effectiveness over goals alone in increasing goal attainment.In this article, the authors first describe implementation intentions, review the substantial body of evidence demonstrating their effectiveness, and explain the underlying psychological mechanisms. They then illustrate the connections between implementation intentions and established learning theory. The final section focuses on forming effective implementation intentions in medical education. The authors provide concrete examples across the continuum of learners (from medical students to attending physicians) and competencies, and make recommendations for when and how to employ implementation intentions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAcademic Medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Mar 22 2016

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physician
goal attainment
Physicians
Medical Education
Psychology
learning theory
Medical Students
medical student
education
psychology
Learning
commitment
evidence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Education

Cite this

Changing Physician Behavior With Implementation Intentions : Closing the Gap Between Intentions and Actions. / Saddawi-Konefka, Daniel; Schumacher, Daniel J.; Baker, Keith H.; Charnin, Jonathan E.; Gollwitzer, Peter.

In: Academic Medicine, 22.03.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Saddawi-Konefka, Daniel ; Schumacher, Daniel J. ; Baker, Keith H. ; Charnin, Jonathan E. ; Gollwitzer, Peter. / Changing Physician Behavior With Implementation Intentions : Closing the Gap Between Intentions and Actions. In: Academic Medicine. 2016.
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