A reflective blog from Nisha & Fiona

Is it science or just communication?

This week, I attended a national meeting about patient centredness and was inspired by the work across the NHS to transform care: empowering patients to control their own health and wellbeing; engaging them by increasing their motivation for healthy behaviours and enabling them by providing opportunities and planning to make positive changes.
I reflected on what our Change Exchange volunteers were doing in Uganda and Mozambique and how much of the work was similar to the work on patient centredness across NHSE. Our volunteers are taking cutting edge behavioural science and translating it, at the front line of health education, to increase understanding of what drives people to do health threatening or health protective behaviours. At the same time, they are studying their activities to add to the body of behavioural science knowledge.

I thought about what was at the heart of learning to be more patient centred and learning to empower, engage and enable people in self care and it is, of course, communication. I don’t mean “skills” but I mean genuine communication: people coming together to understand each other.

As our volunteers reflect on what has been successful in their translation of behavioural science I feel sure that it will be about the deeper understanding of people that the deeper understanding of behaviour facilitates.

An update from Kitovu

An update from Beira….

Corina and Eleanor reflect on their first week in Mozambique:

It has been a fantastic week working with our Ipswich colleagues and partners in Beira Central Hospital. This amazing partnership aims to help improve patient safety through projects related to two key strands: equipment maintenance and medication safety. We have been predominantly involved in the complex strand of medication safety, through conducting interviews, focus groups and questionnaires with staff involved in implementing new medication safety procedures. We have also attended drug calculation training and coded the training for behaviour change techniques; presented information to Beira healthcare staff on the role of Health Psychology and the importance of behaviour in healthcare; and worked with our Ipswich partners to deliver training on antibiotic resistance.

All of this work would not have occurred without the invaluable translation help from Luana and Ermerlinda, as unfortunately our Portuguese does not stretch far beyond Obrigado!

A return to Kitovu with RCOG

After 5 months….

Amy and Nisha had a busy and exciting trip with the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Uganda in April.  We were so impressed by how much they managed to achieve in a relatively short time.  In a 2-week period, they packed in a lot of data collection methods!  They made field notes, carried out focus groups, collected behavioural expectation data and coded the education for behaviour change techniques using the Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy.
On their return, they wrote a report for RCOG, constructed in terms of capability, opportunity and motivation, provided suggestions about enhancing learning and developed some considerations for RCOG to think about on the basis of their findings.

For example, they found that there was an increase, pre to post course, in delegates’ expectations about using an ABCD approach to acutely ill patients.  They coded 20 behaviour change techniques that the faculty were using, including demonstration of the behaviour, graded tasks and using a credible source.
We have received some early feedback from RCOG – they found the report interesting and helpful and are planning to implement some changes.  We look forward to Nisha and Fiona’s findings.


Eleanor and Corina have landed in Beira, Mozambique, with the team from Ipswich Hospital.  Eleanor and Diane have already visited the partners when the Beira partners were in Ipswich last month.  With a focus on medication safety, we are looking forward to an update from them about what behavioural science can offer this partnership.


Wendy and Nimarta are about to depart for Kampala with colleagues from the Royal College of Midwives working on the MOMENTUM project with the Ugandan Private Midwives Association.  The MOMENTUM project is about mentoring of student midwives and takes a mentoring approach throughout, with the UK midwifery consultants twinning with their Ugandan counterpart to bring about postive changes in mentoring in midwifery training.  Taking a collaborative and action research approach, Wendy and Nim are, on a short trip, developing ideas about how behavioural science can assist these partners in meeting their aims.  We look forward to their update.

University of Plymouth-Masanga Hospital, Sierra Leone

Discussions are underway with this partnership about how behavioural science evaluations can assist them in understanding the impact of their elearning on healthcare workers and community members when they suspect someone is infected with a highly infectious disease.  So far, we have designed a behavioural science-based questionnaire to assess capability, opportunity and motivation for key behaviours such as hand washing, using a buddy when putting on or taking off personal protective equipment and providing oral hydration even if someone is not thirsty.  An update is expected in July.