Using behavioural insights to improve health

A recent report from the Behavioural Insights Team highlights five factors for supporting people to take a more active role in health and wellbeing.

As part of the Realising the Value consortium BIT have published a report, Making the change: Behavioural factors in person- and community-centred approaches for health and wellbeing which aims to show how people themselves can take more active roles in their own health and care. They, along with their communities, can create self-care routines which boost health and wellbeing. The potential value of this approach is often underappreciated by health care practitioners, commissioners, and people themselves. As a result, people don’t always seek or receive the best support to sustain healthy lifestyles, or have the know-how to hardwire this into their day-to-day lives.

The report highlights five factors that can enable healthier behaviours and effective management of conditions:

  1. having a growth mindset, building self-efficacy and ‘grit’;
  2. removing small barriers to healthy behaviour;
  3. strengthening social connections;
  4. tapping into intrinsic motivation; and
  5. goal setting and feedback.

Case studies from Horsham and Mid-Sussex CCG, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council’s Wellbeing Team and Mind help to breathe life into the theory.

Also recently, the Health Foundation has announced five research projects that will allow behavioural scientists to work alongside frontline staff to explore and evaluate how behavioural insights can be used to increase efficiency and reduce waste in health care. These five projects will allow behavioural scientists to work alongside frontline staff, helping them to apply and test the insights and methods of behavioural science in rigorous experiments that seek to improve efficiency and reduce waste in ways that can better serve the general population. The programme runs for 2 years and final findings are due in 2018. Emerging findings from each project will also be shared as the research progresses.

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Trevor Fossey 5 Years Ago
One important aspect which is not considered in the Blog is the 'paternalistic' culture that people been subjected to in regard to their health and care - people are subjected to mixed messages regarding their health & wellbeing. On the one hand, people are being encouraged to take some responsibility for their own their own wellbeing (ie. we trust you to look after yourself) - but at the same time the message generally from Health - and Social Care - is that "we don't trust you to have full online access to the information that we hold about you. Everyone should have the right, by default, to have online access to their Health & Social Care information - it should not be kept secret in a paternalistic manner. In my view, people will then be encouraged to embrace a different behaviour to their own wellbeing.