"Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable."
- Bill Gates
Integrating health geography and behavioral economic principles to strengthen context-specific behavior change interventions
The long-term economic viability of modern health care systems is uncertain, in part due to costs of health care at the end of life and increasing health care utilization associated with an increasing population prevalence of multiple chronic diseases. Control of health care spending and sustaining delivery of health care services will require strategic investments in prevention to reduce the risk of disease and its complications over an individual’s life course. Behavior change interventions aimed at reducing a range of harmful and risky health-related behaviors including smoking, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and excess weight, are one approach that has proven effective at reducing risk and preventing chronic disease. However, large-scale efforts to reduce population-level chronic diseases are challenging and have not been very successful at reducing the burden of chronic diseases. A new approach is required to identify when, where, and how to intervene to disrupt patterns of behavior associated with high-risk factors using context-specific interventions that can be scaled. This paper introduces the need to integrate theoretical and methodological principles of health geography and behavioral economics as opportunities to strengthen behavior change interventions for the prevention of chronic diseases. We discuss how health geography and behavioral economics can be applied to expand existing behavior change frameworks and how behavior change interventions can be strengthened by characterizing contexts of time and activity space.
I'm a professor in health promotion, a member of the Healthy Populations Institute, and flagship project co-lead, Creating Sustainable Health Systems in a Climate Crisis, at Dalhousie University. I work with a fantastic team of trainees and colleagues to explore the relationships between the quality of the environment and human health. The quality of the environment can be beneficial, like when we take time to immerse ourselves in nature; or, it can be detrimental such as when we are exposed to harmful contaminants.
My research is focused on measuring the characteristics of the environment, investigating how these characteristics affect our health, and experimenting with solutions and interventions toward a sustainable, healthy lifespan. If this type of work sounds interesting or even fascinating to you then please get in touch.
I'm always looking for enthusiastic and motivated individuals to join or support the team. Opportunities.