The Behaviour and Health Research Unit (BHRU) is headed by Professor Theresa Marteau. It aims to bring contemporary understandings of behaviour from behavioural and brain sciences to national and international effort to achieve sustained behaviour change that improves health outcomes and reduces health inequalities.
The BHRU is funded as part of the of the Department of Health Policy Research Programme to provide policy makers with timely and authoritative information to support decisions on investing or disinvesting in interventions designed to change health-related behaviour.
Poor diet, lack of physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption together are responsible for the huge and growing burden of chronic disease worldwide. They also contribute to the differences in life expectancy between the poorest and the richest in the UK and elsewhere. But while most people value their health, many persist in behaviour that undermines it. The focus of the research in BHRU is upon changing behaviour by changing aspects of our immediate environments that make unhealthy behaviours more likely, most often working through non conscious processes.
A full list of staff is available here.
More information on projects, collaborators and publications can be found on the BHRU website.
Research Interests and Projects
- Altering choice architecture to change population behaviour to improve health outcomes: conceptual and empirical review
- Population diet-related and physical activity-related behaviours and the economic environment: scoping review and evidence synthesis
- Evaluating interventions to improve the nutritional profile of food purchased
- Evaluating the acceptability to the public of government interventions to change behaviour
Key publications include:
- Marteau TM, Ogilvie D, Roland M, Suhrcke M, Kelly MP. Judging nudging: can nudging improve population health? BMJ 2011; 2011;342:d228
- Marteau TM, Hollands GJ, Fletcher PC. Changing Human Behaviour to Prevent Disease: The Importance of Targeting Automatic Processes. Science 337, 1492 (2012); DOI:10.1126/science.1226918