Leiden University: Behavioural expertise needed for lifestyle change

The importance of a healthy lifestyle does not receive the attention it deserves, as the coronavirus pandemic made painfully clear. Twelve behavioural scientists, including Professor of Health Psychology Andrea Evers, believe that more attention should be paid to promoting a healthy lifestyle and prevention, particularly in times of coronavirus.

Even if it was just because the crisis once again made it clear that informing and advising people is not enough when it comes to effective policy. Lifestyle change is behavioural change, after all. The behavioural scientists therefore call for action: ‘Use primary behavioural expertise when developing and implementing lifestyle interventions and policy. Only then will we achieve our goal of a sustainably healthy Netherlands.’

Behavioural science expertise
Thus far behavioural science expertise has only been used to a limited extent to keep healthcare inclusive, affordable and viable. Policy measures and interventions are introduced without behavioural science knowledge and are therefore less effective. Many programmes and measures consequently fail. In the position paper: Behavioural expertise is the key to effective lifestyle policy (in Dutch), which many leading organisations and experts have endorsed, behavioural experts make it clear that the role of behaviour must become an integral part of prevention and care.

Keep the momentum going
Let’s keep the momentum going and use the behavioural science knowledge that we have in the Netherlands for prevention, say the experts. The coronavirus crisis has shown that behaviour change is essential. Behavioural scientists know how to promote this change and thus a healthier, fitter Netherlands for everyone, so their expertise must be used more effectively in policy and intervention development.

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