Thinking differently about health We’re working with the FrameWorks Institute to help people think differently about health.

Thumbnail

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.

Sign up for updates

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.

To receive updates this project, including future work and events, please click the button below.

Latest content

Report

A matter of life and death

March 2022
Report

An evidence-based framing strategy for shifting understanding and building greater support for...

Long read

Building public understanding of health and health inequalities

14 March 2022

About 12 mins to read

Long read

Exploring public attitudes towards health and health inequalities, and how public health...

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.

Briefing

Reframing the conversation on the social determinants of health

February 2019
Briefing

Analysis of public understanding, expert opinion and the media narrative around health, based on...

Article

Making messages work

Article

We explore the research literature underpinning the communications principles to help public health...

Newsletter feature

Plain talking about what makes us healthy

30 May 2019
Newsletter feature

Social awareness drives change. And yet media headlines reflect and reinforce an individualistic...

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.

Report

A matter of life and death

March 2022
Report

An evidence-based framing strategy for shifting understanding and building greater support for...

Blog

Communicating about long-term health during the pandemic

29 July 2020
Blog

The pandemic is compelling us all to think differently about what our society needs to be healthy....

Further reading

Long read

Building public understanding of health and health inequalities

14 March 2022

About 12 mins to read

Long read

Exploring public attitudes towards health and health inequalities, and how public health...

Long read

Public perceptions of the NHS and social care: performance, policy and expectations

3 February 2022

About 15 mins to read

Long read

Launching a new public polling programme with Ipsos, this long read sets out public views of health...

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

Nurses trained outside the UK have long played a vital role in delivering NHS services. This week's data from… https://t.co/LB82AZrCpF

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more