Behavioural insights Much of the global burden of disease arises from unhealthy behaviors, which people struggle to change even if they have the awareness, intention and ability to do so.

The Behavioral Insights Forum presented groundbreaking, evidence-based research showing how citizens’ health can be improved through a better understanding and application of the latest research. Led by a UK government-owned social purpose company, The Behavioral Insights Team, this research studies the factors that influence human behavior thereby producing evidence that can prove vital to improving the health of populations.

Report focus

Using a broad definition of health, the report will cover three main areas: quality of life and wellbeing, public health, and delivery of healthcare. It will further demonstrate how behavioral insights can be applied at the macro level of high-level policies and system design, as well as at the micro-level of experimentation, in order to achieve incremental improvements for the benefit of societies.

This report gives an overview of behavioral insights and shows how they can be applied in practice. It recommends using the ‘Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely’ (EAST) framework that provides a simple way of applying behavioral insights to policy and making behavior change more likely.

  • Easy: As we often avoid making an active choice, we often end up with the ‘default’ option. Therefore, making the default option the healthy one is likely to be effective.
  • Attractive: Creating simple and clear messages or new design features works well to attract our limited attention.
  • Social: We are social beings, strongly influenced by what others do. Making healthy behaviors more visible can make them seem more prevalent and easier to emulate.
  • Timely: People are more receptive to change at certain times. Therefore, some moments will be more effective times for intervention, such as the start of the year or significant life events.

Report insights

The EAST principles apply equally to policymakers themselves. Those making health policy should consider how their own actions may be affected by these factors, and how to apply them to ensure policy is made in the best way.

The ideas and examples in this report can be used by anyone involved in healthcare or public health. However, the report will be particularly valuable to policymakers who are responsible for designing and stewarding health systems.

There are many opportunities to improve health and healthcare worldwide by applying behavioral insights. Many of these opportunities can be realized by applying simple tools to make practical changes.

READ FULL REPORT: Behavioural Insights

Forum Chair: Dr. David Halpern, Chief Executive of the Behavioural Insights Team

Dr David Halpern

David Halpern is the Chief Executive of the Behavioural Insights Team. He has led the team since its inception in 2010. Prior to that, David was the founding Director of the Institute for Government and between 2001 and 2007 was the Chief Analyst at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. David was also appointed as the What Works National Advisor in July 2013. He supports the What Works Network and leads efforts to improve the use of evidence across government. Before entering government, David held tenure at Cambridge and posts at Oxford and Harvard. He has written several books and papers on areas relating to behavioural insights and wellbeing, including Social Capital (2005), the Hidden Wealth of Nations (2010), Inside the Nudge Unit (2015) and co-author of the MINDSPACE report.