Health behaviour change expert inspires lecture guests in Edinburgh

We welcomed global thought leader and social marketing expert Professor Jeff French to Edinburgh for our annual Expert Lecture on Wednesday 30 October.

Professor Jeff French

Jeff has years of experience in the fields of behavioural influence, Social Marketing, social communication and programme planning and evaluation. Publishing over 90 academic papers, and numerous books, guides and tool kits on these subjects, Jeff is also a visiting Professor at Brighton University, a Fellow at Kings College London University and a previous senior civil servant in the UK Department of Health.

He now works internationally as an expert Social Marketer with some of the world’s biggest private companies, NGOs, global organisations such as WHO and governments on the development and evaluation of programmes that aim to influence positive social and health behaviour.

Social Marketing is defined by the National Social Marketing Centre as “an approach used to develop activities aimed at changing or maintaining people’s behaviour for the benefit of individuals and society as a whole”.

Our lecture explored what works and what doesn’t work when developing programmes to encourage positive behaviour change, particularly around increasing physical activity levels.

Hosted by Scotland’s Active Nation Commissioner, Lee Craigie, our lecture saw over 200 delegates from health, transport, planning, environment and social care come together with the shared interest of changing behaviours in Scotland for the greater good.

Lee kicked off our 2019 lecture by introducing the aims of her role and encouraging delegates to take a bold approach towards changing behaviours in Scotland, sharing:

We need to do things differently and take risks in the face of climate change.

Jeff’s lecture challenged examples of current practice and programmes in Scotland and the rest of the world and offered solutions for delivering effective behaviour change. Focusing on Social Marketing principles, Jeff shared tips on how to be most effective whilst also being most efficient when designing programmes.

Jeff shared three key opportunities for creating population based behaviour change and a more active Scotland:

  1. Go beyond the usual suspects
    Who else can we partner with to create change? Health behaviour change will happen when third, public and private sector work together
  2. Co-production of social norms
    When designing programmes to enable behaviour change, whether it be physical activity, healthy eating or stopping smoking – the people that we are trying to influence should be at the centre of development. They should not passive recipients of the programme – but instead active co-creators
  3. Proactive sharing of learning and development
    Capture data and learning at every step of programme development, and share this with others so we can quicker find out what works and what doesn’t.

You can download the Expert Lecture slides here and watch the video of Jeff’s presentation above or by clicking here.

Jeff also features in the latest episode on our ‘Voices of the Walk’ podcast discussing the opportunities and challenges facing individuals and organisations to change their behavior for their own social, mental and physical health. Listen here.