Behavioural Sciences at CARPHA focuses on improving the health of the Caribbean population by informing the development, adaptation and monitoring of the impact of public health programming. The focus is on providing decision-makers, clinical staff, health promotion/education specialists and civil society (non-governmental, faith-based, and grass roots organizations) with tools that support evidence-based interventions and initiatives that aim to improve the health of the region’s populations.
In the past, the focus of initiatives, interventions and programmes that sought to change behaviours to obtain improved health outcomes was on the individual level. However, research has proven that improvement of a population’s health requires changes by the individual as influenced by formal and informal social networks, social institutions and organizations, communal relationships and public policy (Moore, et al, 2011; Mukoma & Fisher, 2004; Glasgow, 1999; Powson, 1997). Thus, a shift is needed in the manner in which decision-makers at the policy, community and organizational levels define and understand public health and the factors that influence behaviour change. Ultimately, factors that seek to improve population health by modifying behaviours at all levels of the socio-ecological model (see Figure 1) must be addressed. Behavioural science provides the foundation for understanding factors that influence behaviour change for positive health outcomes.
Figure 1: Socio-Ecological Model for health (McElroy et Al, 1988)
Theories from behavioural sciences (i.e. sociology, anthropology, economics, psychology and political science) are used to inform the design, adaptation, implementation and assessment of interventions, initiatives and related programme evaluations. Successful interventions, initiatives and programmes will address behaviour change at all levels of society as reflected by the socio-ecological model shown in Figure 1.
The areas of focus at CARPHA include:
Generally, CARPHA has many opportunities to reduce incidence of many health conditions and improve the health of the population. Currently the main activities associated with Disease Prevention and Health Promotion are the following:
Vector Borne Diseases
Public health emergencies (disasters and outbreaks)
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