Public health reform, sanitation & nerdy TV/radio

Dear colleagues, a few resources that might be of interest, do please forward to anyone who might be interested.

Public health reforms in England – Surindar’s early findings

Following her introduction to the Public Health Minister at the CIEH’s public health conference last week, Surindar has published a few initial findings from her PhD research in this area along with a checklist of questions for EH professionals.

Go to:

Some reflections on an LSHTM sanitation seminar – by Alan

I recently attended the Sanitation and Hygiene event at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where speakers included Professor Sandy Cairncross and Dr Val Curtis. We were provided with a fascinating talk both in terms of the potential innovations in sanitation, which remain a necessary intervention in many parts of the world but also I felt considerable educated in relation to behavioural change processes. It is the latter that I would like to focus on since I think it plays an interesting role in our practice.

Dr Curtis explained that, in effect, we have three brains. The first is our habitual brain, the one we rely on. It is informed by our peers, culture, and norms and we fall back on it for the majority of our practices. We also have a planned brain where we have things that need doing and we might do things differently from our habitual brain to achieve the outcomes. Finally we have a motivated brain, the one that tells us to do “other” actions for a purpose. You might think here about New Year’s resolutions or needing to get to a concert etc.

What I found interesting from a practice situation is how we engage with clients. We do a visit and expect change. The recipient however relies on their habitual brain to do most of their tasks, which may involve poor practices. We might manage to engender some planned or motivated change for short periods, but unless we change their habits, they will drift back to them over time.

We have all had those cases where clients have managed to change their behaviour for short periods and yet at the next visit we see the same actions as in the past. This evidence from a variety of countries and cultures show why this might be. Further, I think that we as a profession should be aware of this so that we can work with clients to change behaviours. We would be interested to hear from colleagues about their experiences of the psychology of environmental health behaviour change.

For more information on this important and ongoing research go to:

Research resources – the BBC2’s Science Club and BBC Radio 4’s More or less

Rob is often reminded that he needs to get out more… but as a very happy geek he is engrossed each week in two shows that should be compulsory viewing/listening for all environmental health researchers. Both are available via the iPlayer (if you’re in the UK).

With best wishes,

Surindar, Alan, Rob, Jill and Caroline


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