Thinking differently about health We’re working with the FrameWorks Institute to help people think differently about health.
Our health is shaped by a wide range of factors, from the jobs we do to the places we live. These are the wider (sometimes referred to as the 'social' or 'socio-economic') determinants of health and they influence our opportunities to be healthy.
But when we talk about health, are we getting the message across? Is everyone seeing the full picture?
Creating a healthy society requires greater action on the wider determinants of health. However, in the public debate about how to improve health in the UK, health inequalities and the wider determinants are often left out or misunderstood.
We’ve been working with the FrameWorks Institute to help people think differently about health.
Evidence shows that people's health is shaped by the social, cultural, economic and environmental conditions they live in – the wider (or social) determinants of health. Yet these factors are largely invisible in public discourse and absent from public thinking
Framing is making choices about what we say and how we say it. It is what we emphasise, how we explain an issue, and what we leave unsaid. These choices affect how people think, feel and act.
The way in which a communication is framed shapes how we interpret and respond to that information. When new frames enter public discourse, they can shift how the public makes sense of an issue — how they understand it, how they decide who is responsible for addressing problems, and what kinds of solutions they support. Frames are thus a critical part of social change.
By shifting how the public thinks about an issue, they change the context for collective decision making and can make new types of action possible. Unlike a set of key messages, frames can be used and adapted to a variety of different contexts; enabling us to tailor communications for different audiences and channels while continuing to talk about our issue in a consistent way.
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In March 2022, we published our final findings, with recommendations — or framing strategies — for how to communicate more effectively about health. This summer, we'll be sharing a communicators toolkit to support public health communicators to use the new framing strategies.
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How people think about health (phase one)
In phase one, FrameWorks examined how the public thinks about their health and the health of others, and how that differs to expert opinion and the current media narratives around health.
We produced a briefing summarising the main findings which can be viewed alongside FrameWorks' two research reports: Seeing Upstream: Mapping the Gaps between Expert and Public Understandings of Health in the United Kingdom and Only Part of the Story: Media and Organisational Discourse about Health in the United Kingdom.
New ways to communicate about health (phase two)
Building on phase one, the second phase developed and tested new ways to communicate about health, to increase understanding of the role of the wider determinants and build understanding and support for policies to improve health across the UK.
In March 2022, we reported the major findings and recommendations.