Dr Wendy Lawrence – "Healthy Conversations" Oct 2013

Improving population health: training UK health and social care practitioners in skills to support behaviour change

Dr Wendy Lawrence, Research Psychologist, MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, England

Monday, 21st October 2013

Abstract: Public health policy stresses the potential of cumulative, small changes in individual behaviour to produce significant changes in population health. The Southampton Initiative for Health research team trained health and social care practitioners to facilitate health behaviour change during routine contact with clients. 148 practitioners completed three “Healthy Conversation Skills” training sessions. Change in staff practice was assessed at three time points up to a year post-training using questionnaires, interviews and observation. Practitioners demonstrated increased use of skills to support behaviour change at all time-points. One year post-training they were observed to be using the skills significantly more often than a comparison group of practitioners who had not been trained. Attendees will also be shown the value of ‘Healthy Conversations’ skills by trying it out for themselves in a two minute conversation.

Biosketch: Wendy joined the MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit in 2000 and completed her PhD on “Food Choices of Young Women with Lower Educational Attainment” in 2010. She is a Chartered Health Psychologist with a particular interest in translating research observations into activities to bring about behaviour change to improve population health. The main focus of her work in recent years has been the development and delivery of a training intervention to change staff practice, enhancing their skills for empowering patients/clients to improve their lifestyles, in particular their diets and physical activity levels – the Southampton Initiative for Health (SIH). Dr Wendy Lawrence is visiting as an advisor to Gravida: National Centre for Growth & Development as part of the MOH Improving Maternal and Child Nutrition and Physical Activity Workforce Development Services Programme. Part of the programme involves Dr Lawrence working consultatively with project stakeholders, scientists, researchers and public health experts to adapt ‘Healthy Conversations’ for use in the NZ cultural context.