Bridging the gap between health recommendations and individual behaviour

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A seemingly inherent bias of much public health policy lies in the presupposition of personal interest/knowledge of health which can be effectively applied for disease prevention. While prior research notes the relevance of age and education to health, gaps exist between health knowledge/‘literacy’, individual behaviours, and scientific recommendations regarding communicable diseases. This paper presents primary survey data to explore how individual behaviours/preventative actions compared with recommendations from authorities and science. Findings reveal minimal engagement with simple, proactive steps for three health issues: the prevention of mosquito-borne diseases, the common cold and gastroenteritis. The findings demonstrate a need to better transform recommendations into public knowledge and action. With personal risk perception known to affect individual behaviour, we argue changing individual health behaviours requires challenging presuppositions underscoring existing health campaigns about knowledge acquisition and transfer perceived relevance of action options, and sociocultural context guiding how information is communicated and received. Additionally, change also requires active engagement with counter-normative ideologies exhibited by health movements that question/reject normative recommendations, such as mass vaccination.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImagined futures
Subtitle of host publicationsociology, science and the arts
Place of PublicationNew Zealand
PublisherSociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventConference of the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand 2016: SAANZ 2016 - East Pier Hotel, Napier, New Zealand
Duration: 22 Nov 201624 Nov 2016 (Conference website) (Conference booklet saved in Wayback Machine)


ConferenceConference of the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand 2016
Abbreviated titleImagined futures: sociology, science and the arts
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
OtherWith the 2016 SAANZ Annual Conference we aim to interrogate these propensities and the numerous critiques generated in response. What are our imagined futures? With what sort of normative and disruptive intent do and can we interrogate scientific and technological solutions to human problems? What forms of organization are presupposed for the transfer of research findings into transformative social interventions? What kinds of subjectivity and collectivity are assumed as necessary for the success of inquiry and intervention? What kinds of leadership and subordination do they also presuppose?
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