Setting Up Behavioural Insights Units for Improved Health Outcomes: Considerations for National Health Authorities

Understanding human behaviour and its cultural contexts can offer powerful insights to support healthy behaviours in people’s daily lives and the way they use health services. Many countries are increasingly investing in understanding the behavioural, cultural and social factors that influence behaviour to achieve more evidence-informed, effective and people-centred policies and services. A dedicated behavioural insights (‎BI)‎ unit in a ministry of health, public health institute or other institution can drive the implementation and impact of BI. These units are likely to draw on different disciplines and have different names and focus areas (‎for simplicity, all such units are referred to in this document as BI units)‎. Based on the experience of others who have set up such units, this document offers eight considerations for countries that wish to set up BI units: ensure buy-in and involve stakeholders; determine location; identify funding; develop a strategy; plan staffing and upskilling of team members; identify focus areas of health; plan projects: a mix of complex projects, early wins and policy advice; manage ethical questions. Every country in the WHO European Region is different. The eight considerations offer a starting point for assessing how to set up a BI unit to help drive better health for all.

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