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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Behaviour change that inspires healthy decisions

Push. Nudge. Carrot. Stick. Talk of behaviour change is rife at the moment, and nowhere is this more pertinent than in health

Behaviour change in pharma and healthcare 

From my experience, the one thing that speaks true no matter who you are trying to reach is that listening to, and observing, the people you aim to impact is critical. This may seem obvious, however, the often forgotten part of this story is that it is how you watch and listen, then how you interpret your insights to give you the “so-whats”, that is essential to any solid behaviour change strategy.

Although we've been talking behaviour change for years under our mission of 'Inspiring Healthy Decisions', it's become more than that  it's the very criteria by which we measure the work we do. With such a purpose-driven approach, we realised it was critical that our strategic planning process was as robust as possible and placed behaviour change at its core. We also knew that to do this well (a large part of our “how”), we would need to look outside our business and forge some powerful partnerships.

So, that's what we did. Back in March 2016, we began a collaboration with University College London's Centre for Behaviour Change, and specifically Professors Susan Michie, Robert West and Dr Lou Atkins - the authors behind The Behaviour Change Wheel. The collaboration started with the shared understanding that changing behaviour is a hugely challenging process - and one that embraces theories, methods and evidence from many academic disciplines.

The Behaviour Change Wheel itself was developed from 19 frameworks of behaviour change identified in a systematic literature review. At the centre of the wheel is the COM-B System, which teaches us that all behaviour is made up from having the compatibility, opportunity and the motivation to bring about change. It recognises that behaviour is part of an interacting system involving all of these components. By analysing behaviour this way, we can then identify potential barriers to change, leading to the most effective intervention function (of nine possible interventions) that can bring about positive outcomes, not just outputs. Essentially, interventions that inspire healthy decisions.

Determined not to simply pay lip service to the UCL team's work, instead we worked closely with them to build our own proprietary framework for planning in health. We took time to understand the theory, were trained through UCL's International Summer School and tested (and tested again) how this framework could support how we plan integrated comms campaigns.

And so, together, we arrived at CHANGE. Essentially, this model provides us with a 360-degree view of each of our clients' target audiences – their needs, behaviours and attitudes. The difference is that in the past, I think it's fair to say, marketeers have been too focussed on what consumers or patients think and feel. With COM-B integral to our model, we have no choice but to examine what our target audience is doing today, what we want them to do differently in the future, and what it is therefore that will make the difference.

We believe our model signals a fundamental shift in the way we do business. It shows we're committed to delivering strategically stronger and integrated responses to client briefs so we can ultimately deliver more effective campaigns for them that have valuable and measurable outcomes in health.

Our clients are already finding the rigour of the CHANGE model extremely valuable in unlocking deeper insights, challenging some long-held preconceptions, and providing them with communications strategies they can have confidence in – with some going as far as using it as the basis for their own brand planning.

But we wouldn't have reached this point had we not reached out and collaborated with the experts at UCL, treating their work with care and safeguarding its application in the real world. And without this partnership we certainly wouldn't have been able to develop a framework that is both academically robust and adaptable for a wide variety of health concerns.

If we truly are going to deliver stronger outcomes in health, then continuing to think outside the box for ways to watch and listen, and then interpret findings, must be at the backbone of all our strategic planning. It has taken a behaviour change on our part to realise this vision, and we continue to keep an open mind on how to evolve behaviour change planning models in the future.

Article by
Corrina Safeio

Head of Planning & Research at Pegasus

10th February 2017

From: Marketing



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