Health Behaviour

Health Behaviour

Theme leader: Professor Paul McNamee

The overall purpose of this theme is to build a deeper understanding of the role of health behaviour in the generation and maintenance of health and well-being. Underpinning this research is recognition that health and well-being outcomes are a result of co-production involving individuals interacting with systems and environments.

The health behaviour of individuals – smoking, alcohol, poor diet, physical activity – are major contributors to development of health problems. Also, amongst individuals with existing health problems, behaviour in terms of self-management is an important determinant of long-term health and well-being. In both areas, behaviour is likely to be influenced by economic variables and individual preferences, as well as other factors, such as educational attainment. In particular, there is often an association between behaviour, the efficiency of co-production and socio-economic position. With socio-economic inequalities in health behaviour contributing to the unequal distribution of health problems within the population, addressing health behaviour is therefore central in attempts to narrow health inequalities.

The specific objectives are:

  • To enhance understanding of health behaviour and inequality from an economics perspective.

  • To strengthen the evidence base relating to the outcomes and value for money of health behaviour interventions.

In terms of behaviours, the focus is on dietary choice, physical activity, alcohol consumption, smoking and self-management of chronic conditions. In terms of economic concepts, current expertise lies within the areas of time and risk preference, identification of the causal determinants of health, measurement of health inequality, and assessment of the cost-effectiveness of health behaviour interventions.