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Autonomy-supportive intervention: an evolutionary concept analysis




This paper is a report of an analysis of the concept of an autonomy-supportive intervention.


A large proportion of chronic illnesses can be prevented by positive health behaviour changes. The aim of an autonomy-supportive intervention is to increase perceived autonomy support, which, in turn, increases positive health behaviour changes. Its known core components are choice, rationale and empathy. Identifying and analysing the antecedents, attributes and consequences of an autonomy-supportive intervention will increase the clarity of this concept.


Concept analysis.

Data Sources

Sources were 63 papers describing an autonomy-supportive intervention in health behaviour changes indexed in CINAHL, PsycINFO and MEDLINE (all dates until July 2012).


Rodgers' evolutionary method of concept analysis was used to help identify and analyse the antecedents, attributes and consequences of the concept.


More evolution was found in the disciplines of nursing and psychology compared with medicine in relation to the use of an autonomy-supportive intervention in theoretical frameworks. The antecedents included assessment prior to intervention delivery, intervention providers' beliefs, and skills training. A lack of homogeneity in the manner in which the attributes were described was found in the literature across disciplines and the attributes were classified under five components instead of three: choice, rationale, empathy, collaboration and strengths.


An autonomy-supportive intervention is a useful concept across healthcare disciplines and future research should aim at identifying which attributes and components of an autonomy-supportive intervention may be more effective in increasing perceived autonomy support.

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