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Chair's Welcome - Behavioural Science and Public Health, Volume 1, issue 1

Welcome to our first edition of Behavioural Science and Public Health!

Issue 1, Volume 1, Winter edition


Welcome from Prof Jim McManus (Incoming Chair, BSPHN)

Welcome to the latest edition of our regular publication, renamed along with the network.  It’s a busy time for us, and also an exciting time for us.  Our conference recently in Birmingham showed we are helping to meet a need, and the next priority is to introduce more people to what we do. I hope you might help us expand the number of people who join us this coming year.  We have a strong and unique selling point – we create space for conversations where people can learn across the boundaries of disciplines and take this back to their work situations in a way that they can apply.

 We are now a learned society member of the Academy of Social Sciences, a national partner in implementing the Behaviour Science and Public Health Strategy and are helping create area networks and hubs to spread good practice. We deliberately focus on providing network time at these events, and on providing the venues best suited for learning individually and together that we can at the lowest cost to you, simply because you tell us this is useful and valuable.

 June will see our CPD event on public mental health, which is focused on giving you practical knowledge and skills to be of use to you.

 At the heart of everything we do, however, lies two fundamental commitments: the first is to improve and protect the health of our citizens by bringing behavioural and social sciences to application on public health challenges.  The second is to serve our members and others who could benefit from this by providing space to learn, and support on how to apply these insights. We are here to be useful (and to have some fun as we go).  I believe that has been the hallmark of the last few years, and I know we are all committed to making this the hallmark of the coming years. 


 Jim McManus, BSPHN Incoming Chair


From health psychology to behavioural science: using a multidisciplinary approach to benefit public health and wellbeing

 Dr Angel Chater

University of Bedfordshire (Outgoing Chair, BSPHN)

 Our transition has completed and we are now officially the Behavioural Science and Public Health Network.  This has been an incredibly successful and welcomed transition, and while we will not forget our roots from health psychology, we are widening our multidisciplinary approach to benefit the public health and wellbeing agenda.  

 This rebrand aligned closely with the launch of the Public Health England (PHE)-led strategy entitled: Improving People’s Health: Applying Behavioural & Social Sciences to Improve Population Health & Wellbeing in England (PHE, 2018) for which the HPPHN/BSPHN have been a key stakeholder over a number of years and our website now hosts both the strategy document and space to widen our Community of Practice. 

 Over the last year, several of the BSPHN committee have been travelling up and down the country to promote the Network, giving talks, delivering workshops and manning stands at various events and conferences.  This has taken me personally as far as Moldova, speaking on the importance of behavioural science to public health consultants, practitioners and commissioners, translated simultaneously into Russian and Romanian.  My 2018 report as the UK National Delegate for the European Health Psychology Society in Galway, Ireland, also highlighted the progress we have made, with our European colleagues showing great interest in creating similar collaborations in their own countries.

 To support regional developments that facilitate a knowledge exchange between behavioural science and public health, the BSPHN have begun to host Regional Hubs, the first being funded by Health Education England in the Midlands and East.  This exciting development has led to a series of events and roadshows, delivering on key CPD objectives to build the knowledge, skills and application of behavioural science to public health. We welcome more of these going forward and the committee would be keen to discuss this further with interested parties.

 Our relationship with the British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology (BPS DHP) also continues to grow with continued support from their current Chair and one of our Honorary Fellows, Dr Jo Hart.  We are moving closer to confirming a reciprocal agreement with them, and linked to this partnership, we held our first BSPHN/DHP joint event in September 2018 on Writing for impact: publication, policy and media.  As with all our events, we had speakers from behavioural science and public health; on this occasion Professor Jane Ogden, who covered writing for the media and impact, Rebecca Harkin who gave insight into publishing with Wiley and Professor Jim McManus, who covered writing for policy makers and commissioners. This event was extremely well received and you can read an overview of Professor Ogden’s session alongside an event review in this issue of BSPH.   

 Since its inception, the HPPHN, now the BSPHN has benefited from the close relationships created by those working in health psychology and public health. These collaborations can lead to some excellent outcomes, yet they bring with them some challenges that should be considered.  Emmie Fulton leads on an article in this issue that discusses these considerations in more detail.  This is followed by a detailed example led by Neil Howlett of where these relationships have worked well through the Hertfordshire-based community physical activity programme entitled ‘Active Herts’ (Howlett et al., 2017) that aimed to support those at risk of cardiovascular disease and mental health concerns.  Stuart King further adds to this debate on the importance of drawing from theoretical frameworks and evidence to develop effective services whereby practitioners are informed by behavioural science.

To facilitate these types of relationships further, Jo Hart and I have written an article that aims to initiate discussions on the creation of a national collaboration between health psychology and public health.  We propose this could be done through funded training pathways using a knowledge transfer partnership-style approach with the Stage 2 Health Psychology qualification.  A joint BSPHN/DHP meeting will be held in April 2019 to take these discussions forward.  You can read more in this issue and I hope to update you on the progress on this in my Past Chair’s report in 2020.

Finally, as appreciation for our credibility as a Network, the BSPHN have been admitted to the Academy of Social Sciences as a Learned Society Member.  This is an incredible achievement and we have been afforded with the privilege of nominating  individuals for Fellowships, the first of which we submitted last autumn.  I am delighted to report that these nominations were recently approved and I’d like to take this opportunity to share my warmest congratulations to Professor Chris Armitage and Dr Jo Hart who have been awarded Fellowship of the Academy of Social Sciences.  We have nominated other esteemed colleagues who will be reviewed in the forthcoming round of fellowships and look forward to congratulating them too!     

It has been a real pleasure to serve as BSPHN Chair over the last two years, and Chair Elect in the previous two years.  The Network has grown from strength to strength and this is down to the dedication and passion of those who give their time generously to support all that we do.  I look forward to continuing our work and supporting the Network over the coming years in my new role as Past Chair of the BSPHN.

 Dr Angel Chater, BSPHN Outgoing Chair



Howlett, N., Jones, A., Bain, L., & Chater, A. (2017). How effective is community physical activity promotion in areas of deprivation for inactive adults with cardiovascular  disease risk and/or mental health concerns? Study protocol for a pragmatic          observational evaluation of the ’Active Herts' physical activity programme. BMJ            Open, 7(11), e017783.

Public Health England. (2018). Improving People’s Health: Applying Behavioural and Social Sciences to Improve Population Health and Wellbeing in England. London: PHE