Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: A promising approach for those living with Long-COVID

By Amy Barradell, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

If I were to say to you, Long-Covid, what would that mean to you?

A sub-set of people that contracted Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), have continued to experience debilitating symptoms for more than 4 weeks following their acute infection. They commonly report both physical (e.g., breathlessness, fatigue) and psychological (e.g., anxiety, cognitive impairments) symptoms. Those experiencing these symptoms call it ‘Long-COVID’.


Bringing behaviour change techniques into practice: Making use of available tools

By Marta Moreira Marques, NOVA University of Lisbon, Portugal

Behaviour change techniques are the building blocks of behavior change interventions. Whether you are trying to help someone increase their physical activity, stop smoking or better adhere to a medication regimen, behavior change techniques are the tools you have at your disposal. Common behavior change techniques include things like goal-setting, self-monitoring, providing information about a behaviour and managing emotions.


Effective risk communication is about more than behaviour change: let’s talk about personal risk appraisals

By Victoria Woof and David French, Manchester Centre for Health Psychology, University of Manchester, UK

Traditionally in medicine and health psychology, healthcare professionals have provided patients with their personalised disease risks with the aim of preventing disease. Where risk communication facilitates changes to health behaviour, it can potentially reduce the development of disease and find diseases at treatable stages. For instance communicating the risk of cardiovascular disease to promote the uptake of physical exercise and improved diet to reduce risk. However, there are other possible aims and outcomes to consider when delivering information about disease risk. Further, the goals of healthcare professionals and patients or members of the public may not always be aligned. Several related goals of risk communication have been identified, including facilitating informed choices and producing appropriate affective responses, as well as motivating behaviour change.


Staying well at work by job crafting     

by Janne Kaltiainen and Jari Hakanen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Finland

What parts of my work do I find motivating, engaging and most beneficial for my well-being? What can I do to get more of these things in my work? 

After beginning to feel stressed, slightly bored and “in a rut” at work, a nurse with a long career and strong professional expertise began to ask herself these questions. The answers to these questions led her to begin mentoring some of her younger colleagues, helping her to feel more competent in her work and more connected to her colleagues, and to again find meaning in her day to day routines. This small change to the way she did her job improved her work-related well-being, and importantly, did not harm the overall operation and effectiveness of the hospital. Rather, her colleagues felt better supported through this mentorship and the overall atmosphere at work improved.   (more…)

Building collaboration between behavioural research and practice to improve health

By Katherine Brown, University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

The content of this blog post is in part drawn from my experiences working in a split role between a university and a local government public health department, with the opportunity to apply my research, intervention development and evaluation skills in practice.

Whether you’re commissioning, managing, designing or delivering health services, chances are there’s at least one behaviour that you need your service users to change for the service to successfully achieve its targets. This is because, regardless of the disease(s) your service targets, or whether these are communicable (e.g., flu, Covid-19, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections) or non-communicable (e.g., heart disease, COPD, type 2 diabetes, obesity), the way people behave contributes to the overall disease burden. This is not to say people should be blamed for their ill-health and considered to be solely responsible for their own health and wellbeing. Quite the opposite! A person’s health status is also the consequence of genetic, biological, social and environmental determinants. Consideration of these factors is key for health improvement and protection.


Lost (and found) in translation: Effective communication with patients

By Zuzana Dankulincova, Pavol Jozef Safarik University, Slovakia

While most researchers are aware that disseminating study results is part of their ethical responsibility to research participants (and wish for their research findings to have clear, practical implications), the transition from awareness of evidence to widespread implementation can take a long time. Scientific knowledge is not always applied to everyday practice; when it is, it is usually not done consistently or systematically.


​​Make or break: the importance of breaks in healthcare

By Julia Allan, Aberdeen University, Scotland

Modern life is hectic. We live in an increasingly ‘switched on’ digital world where periods of true respite from work are rare. Many people regularly work for lengthy periods and this is particularly the case for health professionals working in frontline healthcare services. In the healthcare context, working hours and demands are typically high, shifts routinely exceed the 8 hours of a ‘normal’ working day, and work demands can be relentless in nature. If a continuous series of patients require urgent care, health professionals are obligated to provide it, regardless of how busy they have been, or how long they have been working. As a result of these high demands, missed breaks are extremely common in healthcare settings – for example, it is reported that  1 in 10 nurses never take a proper break and 1 in 3 rarely or never take meal breaks during shifts.


Linking the Elephant to the Rider: The Role of Motivation

By António Labisa Palmeira, CIDEFES – Universidade Lusófona, Portugal; ISBNPA Executive Director

Long-term motivation for health-related behaviors can come from different sources. Behavioral scientists are still trying to work out how these sources fit together. For example, I go running nearly every day and have done so for 30+ years. How and why have I maintained this pattern? Daniel Kahnemann would suggest that dual motivational systems are at play: a system 1 that deals with instincts and emotions, and a system 2 that is deliberative and conscious. He might argue that system 2 prompts me to run because I am aware of the health benefits of exercise. On the other hand, Ed Deci might suggest that I am intrinsically motivated to run and do it because it aligns with my values and self and because I enjoy it.


Your intervention, your way! Short appraisal interventions

by Katarzyna Cantarero, SWPS University, Poland

Subjective well-being is a function of what we were born with, situations that pop up in our lives and (luckily!) what we intentionally do. Many researchers have examined what can effectively boost our psychological functioning. Short appraisal (or affirmation) interventions can be one helpful tool in enhancing positive outcomes for people.

Research shows that short writing tasks (e.g., gratitude lists or letters) can enhance psychological well-being. In a large multi-lab study, researchers from 87 countries indicated that simple reappraisal interventions (i.e., changing how one feels about a situation or focusing on positive aspects of a situation) boosted positive emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Appraising an event that is potentially stressful can be helpful in drawing benefits from it. During these appraisal tasks, individuals come up with arguments about the positive side of situations they find themselves in. 


Carrying counseling outside the clinic: The promising potential of mobile technology

Egon Dejonckheere & Peter Kuppens, KU Leuven, Belgium.

Many forms of counseling and psychotherapy still predominantly take place within the therapy room. Yet, once patients leave the therapy room, they sometimes struggle to face their challenges, seize opportunities to get better, and implement what they learned in session. Evidence shows that therapeutic practice can greatly benefit from having direct access to information about what takes place in people’s daily lives. Such information can identify ways to intervene, and effectively close the gap between counseling sessions and real life.