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Imperial College London

Foundations of Public Health Practice: Behaviour & Behaviour Change

Imperial College London via Coursera

Overview

The Health Protection course is the third instalment of the wider Foundations of Public Health Practice specialisation from Imperial College London's Global Master of Public Health (MPH). The scope and content of this course has been developed from the ground up by a combined team of academics and practitioners drawing on decades of real-world public health experience as well as deep academic knowledge. Through short video lectures, practitioner interviews and a wide range of interactive activities, learners will be immersed in the world of public health practice.

Designed for those new to the discipline, over three modules (intended for three weeks of learning), learners will become familiar with the scope, theory and implementation of behaviour change in the context of public health practice. The course begins by challenging learners about their preconceptions about healthy and unhealthy behaviour - seeking to contextualise these ideas within the broader public health approach (the first course of this specialisation). The course thereafter swiftly covers the origins of risk communication and behaviour change through the lens of health psychology and classical economics, before introducing ideas of bounded rationality and the genesis of behavioural insights and so-called Nudges. By the end of the course, learners will be fluent with their use of the Behaviour Change Wheel methodology of intervention development and the application of the COM-B framework to a range of target behaviours and behavioural barriers.

The subsequent courses of this specialisation will cover health protection before moving into the final (degree learner) course which where learners will focus on developing the core professional skillset that defines public health practitioners - whether in service or academia.

Syllabus

  • Module One: Behaviour and behaviour change principles
    • This third course, "Behaviour and Behaviour Change", part of the wider Foundations of Public Health Practice specialisation, is designed to introduce learners to the topic of behaviour and the centrality of behaviour change throughout public health. A very broad lens is cast on behaviour change as the course encompasses everything from clinical intervention up to national-level regulation and legislation. This first module, entitled "Understanding Behaviour" introduces learners to what behaviour means in the context of health improvement, and examines how we interpret risk. We look at risk communication before examining the health psychology literature and three common theories of behaviour: The Health Belief Model, Social Cognitive Theory and the Theory of Planned Behaviour. The second lesson examines more modern insights into behaviour through the lens of behavioural economics, examining behavioural insights and the application of nudge-based techniques.
  • Behaviour change models
  • Module Two: Analysing behaviour and effecting change
    • This third course, "Behaviour and Behaviour Change", part of the wider Foundations of Public Health Practice specialisation, is designed to introduce learners to the topic of behaviour and the centrality of behaviour change throughout public health. A very broad lens is cast on behaviour change as the course encompasses everything from clinical intervention up to national-level regulation and legislation. This second module, entitled "Analysing behaviour and effecting change" introduces learners to the Behaviour Change Wheel methodology that incorporates the COM-B model of behaviour. Students are guided through the latest approaches to behavioural analysis and evidence-based intervention development. While the module focuses on physical activity, we draw upon a range of other topics from the breadth of public health practice including medicines adherence and school-based interventions.
  • Module Three: Theory into practice
    • This third course, "Behaviour and Behaviour Change", part of the wider Foundations of Public Health Practice specialisation, is designed to introduce learners to the topic of behaviour and the centrality of behaviour change throughout public health. A very broad lens is cast on behaviour change as the course encompasses everything from clinical intervention up to national-level regulation and legislation. This third module, entitled "Theory into practice" builds on learners' existing knowledge of the Behaviour Change Wheel methodology and invites them to undertake their own rapid analysis of a public health problem and propose their COM-B diagnosis and BCW-based intervention via a peer-review exercise.

Taught by

Dr Richard J Pinder

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