We live in a time when our population faces complex health and wellbeing challenges. These stem from multiple biological, psychological, economic, environmental, and social causes. The rising burden of long-term conditions and health inequalities poses a challenge for the whole public health system, and to deal with this we need to address the social, cultural and behavioural aspects of health and its determinants at a population level.
The behavioural and social sciences are essential in a multi-faceted approach to tackling the leading public health issues. Whether it’s encouraging smokers to quit, increasing uptake of the NHS Health Check, making healthier food choices easier, or reducing the number of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions, the insights from behavioural and social sciences can help us understand and therefore influence behaviour change that promotes health, prevents disease, and reduces health inequalities.
It is time for the public health system to advance the use of behavioural and social sciences, and for this purpose, PHE’s Behavioural Insights experts, working with many partners,have led the collaborative development of this comprehensive strategy – the first of its kind in the field.
Improving People’s Health: Applying behavioural and social sciences to improve population health and wellbeing in England aims to facilitate public health professionals to engage with and apply the insights, methodologies and knowledge of behavioural and social sciences to their work on protecting and improving the health of the people. As a high-level guide, it provides a framework and consolidates a suite of relevant resources to help achieve this.
The strategy was developed in partnership with the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH), Faculty of Public Health (FPH), Behavioural Science and Public Health Network (BSPHN), and the Local Government Association (LGA). This is the start of the process, not the conclusion, and PHE joins all stakeholders in our commitment to use this strategy to create and encourage further collaboration across the sector. We owe all partners involved in its development a debt of gratitude for freely giving their time, energy and expertise for the good of the health of our population.
Public Health England