Beyond behaviour as individual choice: a call to expand understandings around social science in health research

Nakkeeran, N., Sacks, Emma, Srinivas, Prashanth N., Juneja, Anika, Gaitone, Rakhal, Garimella, Surekha, and Topp, Stephanie M. (2021) Beyond behaviour as individual choice: a call to expand understandings around social science in health research. Wellcome Open Research, 6. 212.

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The focus of behavioural sciences in shaping behaviour of individuals and populations is well documented. Research and practice insights from behavioural sciences improve our understanding of how people make choices that in turn determine their health, and in turn the health of the population. However, we argue that an isolated focus on behaviour - which is one link in a chain from macro to the micro interventions - is not in sync with the public health approach which per force includes a multi-level interest. The exclusive focus on behaviour manipulation then becomes a temporary solution at best and facilitator of reproduction of harmful structures at worst. Several researchers and policymakers have begun integrating insights from behavioural economics and related disciplines that explain individual choice, for example, by the establishment of Behavioural Insight Teams, or nudge units to inform the design and implementation of public health programs. In order to comprehensively improve public health, we discuss the limitations of an exclusive focus on behaviour change for public health advancement and call for an explicit integration of broader structural and population-level contexts, processes and factors that shape the lives of individuals and groups, health systems and differential health outcomes.

Item ID: 69603
Item Type: Article (Commentary)
ISSN: 2398-502X
Copyright Information: Copyright: © 2021 Nakkeeran N et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2021 02:39
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4299 Other health sciences > 429999 Other health sciences not elsewhere classified @ 30%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420312 Implementation science and evaluation @ 30%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420606 Social determinants of health @ 40%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2002 Evaluation of health and support services > 200201 Determinants of health @ 50%
20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200401 Behaviour and health @ 50%
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