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Improving People's Health: Applying behavioural and social sciences to improve population health and wellbeing in England

Key stakeholder acronyms

  • Public Health England
  • Faculty of Public Health
  • Association of Directors of Public Health
  • Behavioural Science and Public Health Network
  • Local Goverment Association

This section describes the key organisations involved in the planning, delivery and evaluation of behavioural sciences and their application to public health.

National policy and delivery organisations

Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) – represents and supports the practice of Directors of Public Health (DsPH). Captures and disseminates the views of DsPH, identifies and engages with the training needs of individuals holding the role and seeks to influence public health policy in line with the views of membership.

Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) – responsible for government policy on health and adult social care. Supports and advises ministers to develop policy, sets direction in terms of domestic and international health, operates in oversight of health and care framework and of arm’s length bodies.

Faculty of Public Health of the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom (FPH) ­– drives the training and ongoing professional standards of public health professionals, promotes research and understanding of public health and partners at a local and national level to improve public health policy practice.

General Medical Council (GMC) – ensures that newly qualified doctors are able to apply social science principles, methods and knowledge to medical practice and integrate these into patient care. It provides quality assurance for the delivery of education and training and promotes the pursuit of evidence-based improvement in the quality of care.

Health Education England (HEE) – leads on the development of the core PH workforce including specialists, practitioners, and the wider PH workforce. It commissions education and training in line with its mandate from Government.

Local Government Association (LGA) – is the national voice of local government. We work with councils to support, promote and improve local government. We are a politically - led, cross party organisation which works on behalf of councils to ensure local government has a strong, credible voice with national government. We aim to influence and set the political agenda on the issues that matter to councils so they are able to deliver local solutions to national problems.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – non-departmental public body providing national evidence-based guidance and advice to improve health and social care. Provides guidance for public health, health has social care practitioner and information services for commissioners, practitioner and managers and develops quality standards and performance metrics for commissioners and providers of public health, health and social care.

NHS England (NHSE) – responsible for arranging the provision of health services in England. Sets priorities and direction for the NHS, commissions healthcare services and assesses and supports clinical commissioning groups in accordance with its government mandate.

NHS Improvement (NHSI) – responsible for overseeing foundation trusts and NHS trusts, as well as independent providers that provide NHS-funded care. We offer the support these providers need to give patients consistently safe, high quality, compassionate care within local health systems that are financially sustainable. By holding providers to account and, where necessary, intervening, we help the NHS to meet its short-term challenges and secure its future. 

Public Health England (PHE) – brings together public health professionals, scientists and researchers to provide evidence-based professional, scientific expertise and support focused on improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities. It delivers specialist public health services, provides practical advice to LGAs and partnership with the NHS and NHS Improvement. Behavioural science is embedded in teams and directorates and through specialist teams which strengthen the behavioural science component of projects and trials and shares knowledge and expertise.

National professional societies and networks

Behavioural Experiments in Health Network (BEH-net) – an international network of researchers and practitioners whose mission is to foster the use of experimental methods and behavioural insights in health economics, policy, management, and practice, and to inform policy and management interventions in the area of health and healthcare.

Behavioural Science and Public Health Network (BSPHN, formally the Health Psychology in Public Health Network) – brings together and provides a forum for behavioural and social scientists, health psychologists and public health specialists to increase the synthesis between behavioural science and public health.

British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology – applies its science to the prevention, promotion and maintenance of health and wellbeing and the analysis and improvement of the health care system and health policy formation. It also works to develop professional skills in research, consultancy, teaching and training.

British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology – undertakes activities to support well-being within the work environment.

British Society of Criminology (BCS) – a network of academics and professionals who are engaged with research, teaching or practice related to crime, criminal behaviour and the justice systems in the UK.

British Sociological Association (BSA) – has the primary objective of promoting sociology through events, journals, a professional network and special interest groups, and representation on key bodies both nationally and internationally to influence policies.

European Health Psychology Society (EHPS) – brings together an international network of health psychologists to promote research and application of health psychology across Europe. Promotes interchange of information with other professional psychological societies and has formal association with the UN.

Operational Research Society (OR) – supports the application of appropriate analytical methods to help those who run organisations make better decisions. Its focus is on improving the complex social and technical systems and processes that underpin everybody’s daily lives. Operational Research is the 'science of better'.

Society of Social Medicine (SSM) – aims to promote the development of scientific knowledge in social medicine through multi-disciplinary scientific meetings, networking, communications and input to policy consultations.

UK Society for Behavioural Medicine (UKBSM) – helps to build capacity in the behavioural sciences by promoting exchange of scientific knowledge and professional experience, formal meetings and collaborative undertakings, and raising the profile of behavioural medicine in science and health policy.

Research funders, thought leaders and think tanks

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – a member of UK Research and Innovation; funds high quality social science research, collection of social and biosocial datasets, knowledge exchange, and impact generation to make the best use of social science evidence for impact on policy and practice.

Medical Research Council (MRC) – a member of UK Research and Innovation; supports research in universities and hospitals, and its own units, centres and institutes in the UK, and in its units in Africa.  The MRC supports research across the entire spectrum of medical sciences, including infections and immunity, molecular and cellular medicine, neuroscience and mental health, population and systems medicine, global health and translational research.

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – funds health and care research, and translates discoveries into practical products, treatments, devices and procedures, involving patients and the public in all its work. The NIHR ensures that the NHS is able to support the research of other funders to encourage broader investment in, and economic growth from, health research. It works with charities and the life sciences industry to help patients gain earlier access to breakthrough treatments and it trains and develop researchers to keep the nation at the forefront of international research. The NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. 

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – a body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation. Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UKRI brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England. Supported and challenged by an independent chair and board, UKRI is principally funded through the Science Budget by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Wellcome – funds a broad spectrum of high quality research across science and humanities and social science disciplines. Schemes support researchers at all stages of the career spectrum and fund the highest calibre collaborative research projects. Population Health at Wellcome has a strategic focus on understanding health and disease, the design of effective interventions and using knowledge more effectively. Wellcome currently supports the “Human Behaviour Change Project” and the “Behaviour Change By Design” research programmes amongst others relevant to this space.

Royal Colleges and Academies

Academy of Medical Sciences – comprising elected fellows drawn from biological sciences, clinical academic medicine, public and population health, technology implementation, veterinary, dentistry medical and nursing care and underpinning disciplines. Celebrates excellence amongst medical science research, draws upon membership and evidence-base to provide advice and support, identifies and addresses support needs in the medical science community and fosters collaboration between academics, the NHS and industry and with international partners.

Academy of Royal Medical Colleges – coordinating body for the UK and Ireland’s medical Royal Colleges which provide development or training in one or more medical speciality. Supports consistency in training and practice, contributes to training and ongoing development for postgraduate, qualified and international doctors.

Academy of Social Sciences – comprising individual Fellows composed of academics and practitioners from academia, the public and private sectors, learned societies and affiliates. It produces and disseminates theoretical and applied social sciences research, provides training and events and operates as a bridge between the social science community and governments.

Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) – provides education and training for over 50,000 GPs in the UK to understand how behavioural and social sciences can be implemented to support the delivery of high levels of care and address the challenges facing primary care and receive continued professional development.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) – supports the education, professional development and professional practice of nurses – to enable them develop the skills to support people with behaviour change through their understanding of local issues and communities.

Royal College of Physicians (RCP) – supports and provides education and training to physicians in the UK including the provision of training curricula and exams for physicians and guidelines for care. Develops evidence-based policy focused on person-centred care, public health challenges and academic medicine and research.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) – represents pharmacists in Great Britain. Provides professional development and accreditation to members and the industry, provides medicines information and advice and promotes and commissions research to improve practice and patient care and safety.