I have been most impressed by this tool and its development. The NSMC have been extremely thorough in ensuring that a high quality evidence base has been used to inform the calculations. It will give commissioners a detailed picture of the benefits their work has already achieved and can achieve in the future. 

Julian Le Grand - Professor of Social Policy, London School of Economics

This programme was intended to develop online tools to help practitioners and commissioners evaluate the value for money of social marketing projects intended to help people make healthier choices.

The programme was commissioned and directed by The NSMC, working with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and others, with funding from the Department of Health.


The tools were developed in six stages:

  • Phase #1: Review of existing guidelines and best practice.
    The guidelines all recommend involving stakeholders, thinking through the causes of behaviour and the impact of intervention, including unintended consequences. They all recommend the identification of behaviour change indicators and estimation of the extent and duration of change, the impact on health and other outcomes and the application of social discount rates to compare the costs of the intervention to the benefits to society.
  • Phase #2: Developing a consensus.
    In order to ensure that the online tools meet the needs of practitioners and commissioners, we conducted a survey with 50 leading commissioners, practitioners and experts in the field. This enabled us to gain a consensus view on the methods and usage needs.
  • Phase #3: NICE Costing Guide for Behaviour Change Interventions.
    NICE were commissioned to advise on relevant indicators for each field of behaviour change, how the costs of interventions should be calculated and to identify benchmark studies demonstrating the health outcomes, savings to the NHS and other impacts for each indicator of behaviour change.
  • Phase #4: Estimating the health impact of behaviour change.
    Where no relevant benchmark studies could be identified we derived preliminary estimates of the health impacts of behaviour change using data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Global Health Risks report of 2009. We are very grateful for the assistance provided by WHO.
  • Phase #5: Development of prototype tools.
    Based on the data produced by NICE and WHO we developed prototype tools as a basis for testing and further refinement.
  • Phase #6: Piloting and refining the tools.
    In discussion with expert groups of researchers in each field and ten local teams responsible for planning and evaluating behaviour change interventions the tools were improved and reformatted to meet user needs.