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What happens when the talking stops?

October 23rd 2014

Addressing a packed audience of leading health professionals at the World Health and Design Forum (WHDF) 2014 in Eindhoven today, Do Something Different’s Professor Karen Pine asked “what happens when the talking stops?”

Karen warmed to her central theme, using technology to change behaviour, with three leading questions:

  1. Why is it that after training courses, only 20% of people go back to work and do anything differently?
  2. Why, after coronary heart surgery, do the majority of people advised to change their lifestyle fail to do so?
  3. Why is that, despite millions spent on raising health awareness, we still have a growing obesity crisis.

The answer of course is that we are all habit machines, hard-wired to stick to routines and repeat the same actions. People do whatʼs easy for them rather than whatʼs good for them.

And that led her on to unveil the hard truth in the battle for behaviour change.

Most people already know what they should do. The fundamental flaw in most health campaigns is believing that’s it’s enough to raise awareness. Karen called this: The knowing-doing gap in health behaviours.

What can you do to change health behaviours?
Karen introduced the audience to Do Something Different’s unique online behaviour change approach and cited some compelling stats from recent health pilot projects that show:

  • 21% increase in subjective wellbeing
  • 37% increase in physical activity
  • 20% decrease in alcohol consumption
  • 2.62kg average weight loss over 6 weeks
  • 29% increase in fruit and veg consumption
  • Significant improvements in mental health measures

Why so successful?
Because these interventions target doing, not thinking. They target behaviour change, not awareness.  They invite participants to take small steps that challenge ingrained habits to bring about big changes.


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So what did happen after the talking stopped?

Karen invited people attending the conference to pin a message on the ‘Do Tree’ at the conference with a commitment to do something as a result of her keynote. Judging by the growing foliage, there are ripples of change sweeping out through the medical community from Eindhoven as we blog…


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