Research in Behavioural Medicine aims to improve health and health care through a multidisciplinary approach to the development and integration of environmental, social, behavioural and biomedical knowledge, and the application of this knowledge to effectively change the behaviour of the population, patients and clinicians to improve prevention, treatment and service delivery.
The programme has three clusters:
- Health Improvement, which has a focus on complex community based interventions to improve health behaviour. This research is conducted in close collaboration with DECIPHer, the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement.
- Healthcare Communication, which has a focus on behaviour change counselling and decision support in clinical encounters. This research is led by the Decision Laboratory.
- Healthcare Improvement, which has a focus on improving the quality, safety and efficiency of clinical practice.
The programme will build critical mass in each cluster through strategic collaboration and a focus on excellence.
Behavioural medicine examples of notable impact on the evidence base, public policy making and practice include:
- The intervention method of Motivational Interviewing developed by Prof Stephen Rollnick has been the subject of over 100 published controlled trials and eight systematic reviews; since 1991, 175,000+ copies of books have been sold in 12 translations.
- ASSIST ‘A Stop Smoking in Schools Trial’ - 10,730 students aged 12-13 years in 59 schools in England and Wales. were involved in the ASSIST programme, which trained students to act as peer supporters during informal interactions to encourage their peers not to smoke. The results, published in the Lancet, show that students in the intervention group were 22% less likely to take up regular smoking than the control group over the two-year period following the intervention, resulting in a 3% difference in smoking prevalence among all students in Year 10 (age 14 to 15 years). On the basis of these results, if implemented on a UK-wide basis the ASSIST intervention could potentially reduce the number of 14-15-yearold school students taking up regular smoking by 43,000.
Project Focus: Healthy Eating and Lifestyle in Pregnancy (HELP).
Around 1 in 5 pregnant women in the UK are obese. Obesity is linked generally to poor health and also to pregnancy complications. The MRC funded HELP study is a large multicentre randomised controlled trial which aims to assess whether a weight management intervention for obese pregnant women, which targets physical activity and healthy eating, is effective in reducing women’s BMI at 12 months from giving birth.
- STAR 'Stemming the Tide of Antiomicrobial Resistance' - a blended educational programme successfully led to long-term reductions in the number of antibiotic prescriptions by Welsh GPs, and could see ‘unnecessary’ prescriptions cut by 1.6M per year, if replicated across the UK.
- NERS 'National Exercise Referral Scheme' - an evaluation of the scheme by Cardiff University in 2011 found that all participants in the scheme had higher levels of physical activity than those in the control group. There were positive effects on depression and anxiety, particularly in those referred wholly or partially for mental health reasons, and the economic evaluation demonstrated that the scheme was cost effective.