Revealing the unsung heroes of healthy public policy
Project title: Communicating prevention – approaches to prevention framing and story telling
Start date: April 2015
End date: June 2018
This project is finished.
What is the issue?
The public image of prevention correctly identifies the importance of individual behaviour change, but it makes it look spontaneous and the result of personal willpower only.
This public image underestimates the role of public policy in creating situations and incentives to enable behaviour change, for example, by making fresh food affordable or by having policies in schools and workplaces that encourage physical activity.
A large proportion of the health promotion and disease prevention workforce is therefore invisible to the public. Yet without these people we would not have achieved the huge gains made over the past 25 years. If we want to make further gains in prevention, we need to make the role of healthy public policy more widely known and understood.
How did the project address the issue?
We conducted focus groups with the public and used the insights to shape new key messages for policy makers. It developed metrics about the benefits of prevention that put unfamiliar policies into familiar terms. It formed new partnerships with the arts and entertainment industries to identify innovative ways to communicate prevention in everyday conversation.
Relevance for practice
The project has helped policy and practice partners communicate the benefits of prevention. We hope that by improving public understanding of healthy public policy, the business case for investment in prevention will be easier to make.
What were the outcomes?
The project has provided new ways to frame health promotion and disease prevention that value the role of the “hidden workforce” who create healthy public policy and that quantify the benefits of actions that have been taken for granted.
- Professor Penny Hawe, Menzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney
- Dr Vicki Arbes, Consultant
- Dr Thomas Astell-Burt, University of Wollongong
- Dr Becky Freeman, University of Sydney
- Professor Brian Head, University of Queensland
- Dr Rod Lamberts, Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
- Professor Joan Leach, Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
- Dr Merryn McKinnon, Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
- Dr Jo Mitchell, NSW Ministry for Health
- Dr Samantha Rowbotham, Menzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney, and the Prevention Centre
- Dr Helen Siuki, Macquarie University
- Ms Chedia Dhaoui, Macquarie University
- Dr Jacqui Hoepner, Centre for Public Awareness of Science (ANU)
- Dr Will Grant, Centre for Public Awareness of Science (ANU)
- A/Prof Cynthia Webster, Macquarie University
This project was funded by the NHMRC, Australian Government Department of Health, NSW Ministry of Health, ACT Health and the HCF Research Foundation.
Research is now completed. Final outputs and publications are being drafted.
- Phiddian E, Hoepner J, McKinnon M. Can interactive science exhibits be used to communicate population health science concepts? Crit Public Health. 2019; doi: 10.1080/09581596.2019.1575948
- Rowbotham S, McKinnon M, Marks L, Hawe P. Research on media framing of public policies to prevent chronic disease: A narrative synthesis. Social Science & Medicine. 2019;237, 112428. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.112428
- Astell-Burt T, Rowbotham S, Hawe P. Communicating the benefits of population health interventions: the health effects can be on par with those of medication. Social Science and Medicine – Population Health 2018;52:5462
- Rowbotham, S, McKinnon, M, Leach, J, Lamberts, R, Hawe, P. Does citizen science have the capacity to transform population health science? Crit Public Health. 2017;doi:10.1080/09581596.2017.1395393
- Marks, L. Breastfeeding at work: a failed citizen science pilot project illustrates issues in public health ethics. Sydney School of Public Health Research Showcase, University of Sydney, 30 July 2019
- Marks, L. What could citizen science do for public health? Sydney School of Public Health Research Showcase, University of Sydney, 30 July 2019
- Hawe P. Public intellectuals and citizen scientists: new opportunities for promoting engagement in public health. Australian National Prevention Conference, 2-4 May 2018, Sydney
- Marks L, Rowbotham S, Lamberts R, Hawe P. Can neuroimaging be used to enhance communication in public health? Emerging Health Policy Conference. Menzies Centre for Health Policy University of Sydney, 26 July 2018
- Rowbotham S, Hawe P, McKinnon M, Lamberts R. Leach J. Exploring the Potential Of Citizen Science Approaches in Public Health. Australian Citizen Science Conference . Adelaide 9 February 2018
- McKinnon M, Hawe P, Beck A, Grant W, Hoepner J, O’Connell C. Building public understanding of population health science: insights from a unique collaboration . Public Understanding of Science and Technology Conference. Dunedin NZ 4-6 April
- Hawe P. Towards a science of equitable solutions: Harnessing the voice and interests of citizen scientists. World Congress on Public Health. 4 April 2017. Melbourne.
- Hawe P. It’s not just about evidence. Empowering communities. Communities in Control Workshop. 10 June 2016, Lancaster, UK.
- Barakat T. Corrupting the nanny state? Content analysis. Lock out laws. Emerging Health Policy Research Conference; Menzies Centre for Health Policy. 13 July 2016, Sydney.
- Rowbotham S. Media framing of preventative health messages: a scoping review. Emerging Health Policy Research Conference; Menzies Centre for Health Policy. 13 July 2016, Sydney.
- Hawe P. An image makeover for the nanny state? Communicating the science that underpins public policy in disease prevention. Centre for the Public Awareness of Science; 22 August 2016, Canberra.
- The Wholesome Show: Life in a herd podcast series
- Prevention Centre news, October 2017: Internships to break new ground in communicating prevention
- Prevention Centre news, April 2017: Engaging the bystanders of public health
- Prevention Centre news, July 2016: Prevention Centre research shines at Menzies conference
Prevention Centre blog, 5 November 2018: How can citizens contribute to the science and practice of public health?
MJA Insight, 5 November 2018: Rowbotham S, Hawe P. Making the most of citizen science.
The Conversation, 10 March 2016: We should broaden our view of science if it’s to help make good public policy