Barrier analysis

Barrier analysis is a rapid assessment tool used in behavior change projects. The purpose of barrier analysis is to identify behavioral determinants, so that more effective behavior change, communication messages, strategies, and supporting activities can be developed. Barrier analysis is a relatively easy approach that can be conducted in a short period of time, allowing implementers to quickly make decisions based on the findings. This method has been used in 38 countries by 34 organizations. The training manual is available in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic.


Barrier analysis was developed in 1990 by Tom Davis, MPH (Global Sector Lead for Health & Nutrition with World Vision International) based on the health belief model and the theory of reasoned action.[1] Since then, it has been adopted by at least 34 organizations working in 45 countries around the world to study determinants of behaviors related to child survival (health, nutrition), WASH, food security, education, sexual and reproductive health, city planning, and other areas. The methodology has continued to evolve as it has been tested in different settings. It has primarily been used for international development, although it has also been used and taught in the developed world as well (e.g. by the Baltimore City Government for analysis of trash can use,[2] Feed the Children [3] and Hunger Free NYC[4] to look at participation in the USDA summer meals program, and the Honey Bee Health Coalition[5]).


Barrier analysis can be used at the start of a behavior change program to determine key messages and activities for intervention. It can also be used in an ongoing program, focusing on behaviors that have not changed in order to understand what is stopping it from happening.


The purpose of barrier analysis is to identify determinants of behavior change among a specific target audience. The four most commonly found determinants are self-efficacy, social norms, positive consequences, and negative consequences.[6] Typically researchers interview 45 "Doers" (people who already practice the behavior) and 45 "Non-doers" (people who do not practice the behavior) and compare the responses. A difference of 15% or greater between the two interviewee categories is considered statistically significant. Such ["statistically significant"] determinants have a less than 5% probability of being due to chance.


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