Healthcare professional behaviour

Healthcare professional practice is very complex and cannot entirely be broken down into separate behaviours.  However, sometimes it is useful to think of the individual behaviours that make up parts of professional practice and what causes healthcare professionals to behave in the ways that they do.

What do we know about why healthcare professionals practice in the way that they do?

Healthcare professional practice is very complex and cannot entirely be broken down into separate behaviours.  However, sometimes it is useful to think of the individual behaviours that make up parts of professional practice and what causes healthcare professionals to behave in the ways that they do.

Scientists and social scientists have studied what determines people’s behaviour for many years.  The study of behaviour has led to a number of hypotheses which can be summarised as:

  • Behaviour is what we do.  It is influenced by what we think and feel but it is not the same as what we think and feel.  Our attitudes and beliefs are not the same as our behaviours, although they are obviously linked to each other.
  • People do not make rational decisions about all of their behaviours.  Some behaviours happen automatically with very little weighing up of the costs and benefits of either the behaviour or of the potential outcomes of behaving in that way.
  • Behaviour is influenced by internal factors, such as our impulses and our previous experiences and external factors, such as what is going on around us and who is with us.
  • There is no direct line between what a person CAN do and what they WILL do.  We need to be able to do something in order to do it, of course, but even if we are able we might not, depending on many other factors.

How does this link to what healthcare professionals do?

Watch this animation to find out more about what we know about healthcare professional behaviour.

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