By Dani Austin
I am a research assistant specialising in Psychology (Behaviour Change). I completed my Undergraduate degree at the University of Plymouth and was in the first cohort to study MPsych (Master of Psychology) back in 2013.
Behaviour plays a fundamental role in people’s health and defines their quality of life. For example, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption in excess can lead to poor health and many long-term health conditions.
It is no surprise that with fast improving technology, individuals turn to various online platforms and apps to increase knowledge or understanding of their condition, seek advice and self-manage their health behaviours.
The number of apps available to download has increased dramatically over the last decade. As of January 2017, the number of available apps to download for various iOS and Android devices reached 2.2 and 3 million respectively.
Behaviour change applications were among these, and are increasing in popularity as they can be obtained either free of charge or at little cost. They are practical, offer rapid and constant accessibility, are anonymous and therefore are perceived as non-judgmental. However, very often the targeted behaviour change is not sustainable due to individuals not being motivated enough to continue with the eHealth intervention for long enough. It is recommended that the use of extended self-help interventions last at least 6 weeks in duration as this is the time before any long lasting positive changes in the targeted behaviour can be observed.
Many eHealth interventions available to the public are not successful or only partly successful; they are designed to look good and attract individuals at first, but many of them are not based on psychological theories.
My focus within EPIC is to support small to medium enterprises (SMEs) who are designing and developing digital interventions by applying population-level behavioural change based on scientifically validated behavior change theories.
I would love to hear from you to discuss your ideas that relate to behaviour change whether developing apps or other technological innovations. Email me at Daniela.email@example.com.