Health psychology, behavioural science, and Covid-19 disease prevention

Angel Chater, Lesley Lewis, Madelynne A Arden, Lucie Byrne-Davis, Paul Chadwick, John Drury, Tracy Epton, Jo Hart, Atiya Kamal, Emily McBride, Daryl O'Connor, Gillian Shorter, Vivian Swanson, Chris Armitage

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In March 2020 the president of the British Psychological Society (BPS) reached out to member networks to join forces on a BPS Covid-19 co-ordinating group. Members of this group were tasked to lead different work-streams highlighting psychology’s role during the pandemic. One workstream focused on ‘Behavioural Science and Disease Prevention’. It was clear that understanding behaviour and anticipating public responses to changes in policies, public messaging and guidelines would be key to improving health outcomes. This workstream focused on developing clear guidance to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and identifying psychological evidence to promote best practice in the design of sustainable behavioural interventions. This includes both immediate infection control behaviours aimed at reducing virus transmission, such as hand washing, physical-distancing and self-isolation, and behaviours that may have been influenced during the pandemic, such as physical activity, eating behaviour, substance use and healthcare use, which will have far reaching impacts on future health. This article provides an overview of the core guidance and practical examples of its application in a public health setting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Psychology Update
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Open science - no


  • health psychology
  • COVID-19
  • behavioural science
  • behavioral science
  • psychology
  • public health


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  • Optimising vaccination uptake for Covid-19

    Epton, T., Lawes-Wickwar, S., Ghio, D., Shorter, G. W., Whittaker, E., Arden, M. A., Armitage, C., Byrne-Davis, L., Chadwick, P., Drury, J., Hart, J., Lewis, L., McBride, E., O'Connor, D., Swanson, V., Kamal, A. & Chater, A., 19 Apr 2021, Leicester: British Psychological Society.

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