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Psychiatr Serv. 2008 Jul;59(7):747-52. doi: 10.1176/

Using implementation intentions to teach practitioners: changing practice behaviors via continuing education.

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Department of Psychiatry, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19124-2399, USA.



This study evaluated the effectiveness of implementation intentions on increasing the use of a practice behavior among mental health practitioners who attended a one-day continuing education class.


Seventy-eight practitioners were randomly assigned to one of two classes on psychiatric advance directives. One class incorporated instruction in implementation intentions (N=40) and the other class did not (N=38). Implementation intention training involved having the participants describe the best time and place to use a practitioner-guided procedure to assist consumers to complete a psychiatric advance directive. Use of the practitioner-guided procedure was the dependent variable in this study. Use of the procedure in practice was assessed three months after the class via an electronic self-report survey.


There were no statistically significant differences between the two class conditions in participant characteristics or preclass or postclass knowledge of and intentions to use the procedure. Fifty-four participants (69%) responded to the three-month follow-up survey, indicating that they had used the practitioner-guided procedure. The results of the follow-up survey showed that overall those attending the class that incorporated implementation intentions used the practitioner-guided procedure significantly more often than those in the other class (80% versus 58%). The effect of implementation intentions on utilization of the practitioner-guided procedure was evident among practitioners whose postclass intentions were high but below the median for the overall sample (chi(2)=7.1, df=1, p<.01). Implementation rates among practitioners with the highest post-class intentions were equivalent in the two class conditions.


Incorporating implementation intentions into continuing education classes can increase the use of practices taught in these classes among well-motivated practitioners.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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