Behavioral science around the world: volume III: public health

In 2018 and 2020, the World Bank published two reports on behavioural Science Around the World that profiled the efforts of selected countries (Afif et al. 2019) and international organizations (Manning et al. 2020) to apply behavioural approaches to public policy. This third report, a joint effort of the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), examines behavioural science applied to public health.  The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the need for public health departments to improve how they address the behavioural components of health. The initial focus during the pandemic, for example, on informing the public about the virus and encouraging or even compelling certain behaviours (e.g., physical distancing, mask-wearing) rather than enabling them was insufficient, in part because behavioural evidence was not considered when developing those strategies (Michie 2021). As research undertaken during the pandemic is published and circulated on what did and did not work, we have entered a period of improved learning about behaviour and health. 

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