February 15, 2023

How behavioural science can help patients manage their long-term conditions

Dr Steven Laitner
Head of Population Health

In our first webinar, I joined Aide Health’s Professor Nick Barber and behavioural scientist Richard Shotton to discuss the behavioural foundations for helping people make better decisions about their health.

What is behavioural science? Simply put, it is the study of how people actually behave rather than how they claim to behave. It is based on the understanding that people have so many decisions to make in their day-to-day life that they don’t have the time or energy to weigh up those decisions with full consideration.

Instead, we all rely on shortcuts to make those decisions quickly. The study of behavioural science tells us that these decisions are prone to biases. If we are aware of these biases when designing interventions for patients, and the influence they have, we can work with human nature rather than against it.

Traditionally, clinicians have had a rather paternalistic view of behaviour change. We have a tendency to hope that if we tell people what they should do and give them a leaflet, then all will be good — as if the sole gap is knowledge. Or perhaps we just believe that is often all we can do as GPs.

Health and Wellbeing Coaches and Social Prescribing Link Workers in primary care can help here, but people need to be directed and signposted. In primary care, we have a wealth of information about people with behavioural risk factors, both with and without long-term conditions. Now is the time to link the tools and workforce to those people and start to support behaviour change in partnership with those who really need it.

Richard Shotton, the author of The Choice Factory, covers an introduction to EAST, one of the frameworks which helps simplify the field of behavioural science so it can be more easily applied in our work. Watch the Webinar in full below.


Other articles you might like