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Applying Behavioural Insights: Simple Ways to Improve Health Outcomes

Applying new insights about behaviour can lead to better health outcomes at a lower cost. This report gives an overview of these insights and shows how they can be applied in practice.


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This report makes the case for using behavioural insights to improve health and healthcare worldwide. We provide case studies where this approach has already been put into practice successfully, and offer practical advice about how to apply behavioural insights. There are many opportunities to improve health and healthcare by using simple tools to make practical changes.

The report sets out four key messages:

  1. In order to improve health outcomes, we need a better understanding of behaviour. There are three main areas where a lack of understanding or attention to human behaviour causes problems in the health sector: public health, healthcare provision and policy decisions.
  2. Behavioural insights offer new solutions to policy problems. Applying these insights can unveil new and better ways of achieving policy goals, as well as enhancing existing policy tools (like making laws or providing incentives).
  3. Behavioural insights can improve health and healthcare. The Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely (EAST) framework is a simple way of applying behavioural insights to policy and making behaviour change more likely.
  4. Trialling interventions brings important advantages. Since behaviour is complex, context is powerful, and details matter, we cannot be sure of the exact best way to implement interventions. Therefore, it is important for policymakers to incorporate simple trials to evaluate the effect of behavioural interventions on healthcare services. These trials are often cheap and can deliver results quickly, particularly if routinely collected data is used.

Date Published

November 29, 2016