To eat or not to eat, that is the question: How can health psychology practitioners help people manage food safety?

Posted Posted in Automaticity, Habit, Self-efficacy

By Barbara Mullan, Curtin University, Australia

Extent of the problem

Every year, one in 10 people worldwide (approximately 600 million people) become ill after eating contaminated food, and as many as 420,000 people die. There are vast geographical differences in where these instances occur, with African, South-East Asian, and Eastern Mediterranean regions bearing the highest burden of foodborne disease (further detail about the foodborne disease burden by region can be found here). In addition to these geographical differences, there are also vast differences in the types of agents that are responsible for foodborne disease (e.g., viruses, bacteria, parasites).


Assistert røykeavvenning for gravide: bestepraksis fra Storbritannia

Posted Posted in Financial Incentives, Smoking cessation

Av Felix Naughton, Universitet i East Anglia, Storbritannia

Mellom 25-50% av kvinnelige røykere slutter å røyke etter at de oppdager at de er gravide. Men hvorfor fortsetter resten å røyke gjennom hele svangerskapet?

Vet de ikke at røyking under graviditeten er skadelig? Vanligvis vet de det. En av våre studier fra Storbritannia, som inkluderte gravide kvinner som både var motiverte og umotiverte til å slutte, avslørte at 99% var til en viss grad enige i uttalelsen ‘røyking under graviditet kan ha skadelige effekter på babyen min’, mens omtrent 75% som sa seg veldig eller ekstremt enige. Likevel avsto færre enn 10% etter 12 uker. Selv om et forsøk på å slutte med røyking var mer vanlig blant gruppen som var sterkt overbevist om at røyking er skadelig under svangerskap, så ser det ikke ut til å øke sannsynligheten for suksess.


Forbedring av korte alkoholråd i primæromsorgen: synspunkter fra begge sider av konsultasjonsbordet

Posted Posted in Assessment, Brief behavioural intervention, Goal setting, Habit, Planning

Av Amy O’Donnell, Newcastle Universitet, Storbritannia

Drikkenivå har nylig sunket i deler av Europa, særlig blant ungdom. Men overdrevent alkoholforbruk er fortsatt en stor risikofaktor for dårlig helse og tidlig død. Å gi enkle og korte råd til de som er identifisert som alkoholoverforbrukere, kan bidra til å redusere mengden alkoholforbruk, særlig når rådgiverne er helsepersonell i primærhelsetjenesten som allmennleger og sykepleier. Enkle råd angående alkohol innebærer en kort, evidensbasert og strukturert samtale som tar sikte på å motivere og støtte pasienten til å vurdere en endring i drikkeatferd for å redusere skaderisikoen.


Staying well while staying at home

Posted Posted in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Coping, Habit, Mental Health, Planning, Routines, Self-monitoring, SMART Goals

By Dr Federica Picariello and Professor Rona Moss-Morris, King’s College London, the UK.

Within weeks around the world, daily life dramatically changed, and uncertainty seized our future in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the immediate and urgent need to slow down the spread of COVID-19 through rapid and widespread behavioural change (i.e., self-isolation, social distancing, and quarantine), the impact on mental and physical wellbeing needs to be considered to allow early intervention and mitigate the longer-term consequences.


How to maintain health behaviours long term?

Posted Posted in Habit, Motivation, Self-monitoring, Self-regulation

By Dominika Kwasnicka, SWPS University, Poland and University of Melbourne, Australia

The ultimate goal of health promotion programmes is to promote long-lasting change and health care professionals can play a role and help patients to improve their health outcomes and maintaining behaviour change. We know that health behaviour change is difficult to initiate and it can be even more challenging to maintain in the long term. One big question in health psychology is why maintenance is so difficult. 


Stop being an ostrich! The benefits of helping people to monitor their progress

Posted Posted in Self-monitoring

By Thomas L. Webb, Department of Psychology, The University of Sheffield, the UK

How are you getting on with your goal to reduce the amount of sugar that you eat and lose 10kg? Chances are that you don’t really know – or even want to know. In situations like these, people tend to behave like ostriches and bury their heads in the sand, intentionally avoiding or rejecting information that would help them to monitor their goal progress. Research on this “ostrich problem” suggests that people often do not keep track of their progress (e.g., step on weighing scales, read the packets of food that they buy), in part, because doing so can make them feel bad about themselves – e.g., they realise that they weigh more than hoped and that they still consume too much sugar. However, theory and evidence suggest that keeping track of progress helps people to identify discrepancies between their current and desired states that warrant action. The implication is that avoiding monitoring makes it difficult to identify the need to act and the most appropriate way to do so. The ostrich problem therefore represents an opportunity for healthcare professionals (and others) to help people to monitor their progress and capitalise on the benefits of so doing. Perhaps not surprisingly then, we found good evidence that prompting people to monitor their progress helps people to achieve goals across a range of domains.


Insights from behavioural science for the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted Posted in Communication

By Shane Timmons, Economic and Social Research Institute, Ireland

Governments worldwide have mobilised to try to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, but the behaviour of individuals will be vital to their success. We – the Behavioural Research Unit at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin – are working with Ireland’s Department of Health to inform their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this work, we’ve reviewed over 100 scientific papers and have begun testing ways to best communicate with the public, with lessons relevant for health psychology practitioners. In our review, we focus on literature relevant for three areas that have formed the basis for public health messaging in multiple countries: hand hygiene, face touching and isolation. We also address broader literatures on how to motivate helpful behaviour and communicate effectively in a crisis. 


The importance of assessing clients’ coping strategies

Posted Posted in Assessment, Coping

By Nadia Garnefski and Vivian Kraaij, Department of Clinical Psychology, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Rob has just heard that he has HIV (negative event). He thinks that he is the one to blame for this (self-blame) and he avoids seeing his friends (withdrawal). The situation makes him sad. When sitting at home, he cannot stop thinking about his feelings (rumination) and believes that what has happened to him is a complete disaster (catastrophizing). Because he feels sad, he has little energy. As a result, he withdraws even more. This makes him even sadder. In this way, Rob is drawn into a downward spiral.


Are your clients being defensive? If so, self-affirmation may help.

Posted Posted in Communication, Motivation, Self-affirmation, Self-efficacy

Peter Harris and Ian Hadden, The Self-Affirmation Research Group, School of Psychology, University of Sussex, UK

Have you ever been reluctant to face up to something you’d rather ignore? Maybe your fondness for something bad for you that you eat too often or your tendency to avoid health check-ups? Well, you’re not alone. Most of us think we are generally quite sensible and competent people. So, being told that something we do is not really sensible or competent can be quite challenging. As a result, we can be pretty skilled at resisting messages we’d prefer not to hear.


Becoming your better self as reason for changing behavior

Posted Posted in Mental Imagery, Possible selves

By Winifred Gebhardt, Leiden University, The Netherlands

About nine years ago, I became a vegetarian overnight. In a novel I was reading, the main character explained how he could not eat anything “in which at some time a heart had been beating”. Like a thunderbolt these few words sunk in. I realized that this was exactly how I felt. I stopped eating meat and fish instantly, and I have not had any problem sticking to this new diet ever since. The new behavior perfectly fitted the “person I am”. 

Conversely, in the past I used to jog regularly and could easily run seven kilometers. However, I never regarded myself as a “sporty person”, and whenever a barrier occurred such as being ill, I lapsed into being a couch potato. I now no longer try to “be sporty” but do try to walk whenever I can during the day. I consider myself an “active person”.