PUB-520: Social and Behavioral Principles of Public Health.


Learners in this pub-520: Social and Behavioral Principles of Public Health course identify social and behavioral approaches in public health to affect change at the individual, interpersonal, organizational, and community levels. Moreover, these students also examine the influence of the social, political, and economic landscape of the community on perceptions of health, and assess the readiness of individuals and the community for change. They also explore the social determinants of health and apply theoretical frameworks to address public health issues and reduce health disparities. Students also evaluate the best methods to empower change and engage communities in public health initiatives with sensitivity to the diverse spiritual, cultural, and psychosocial needs of the populations they serve. Most importantly, students get a chance to research specific problems related to health equity, applying a theoretical framework, identifying contributing factors, and proposing appropriate interventions.

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What is public health?

Public health is the science and systems designed to create community, statewide and nationwide conditions that promote health, prevent disease and encourage healthy behaviors across the entire population.

Examples of public health actions include:

  • Educating the public about healthier choices/ Promoting healthy lifestyles.
  • Promoting physical activity and fitness
  • Preventing disease outbreaks and the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Ensuring safe food and water in communities
  • Preparing for an emergency, preventing injury, treating water with fluoride.

The main goal of public health is to achieve and sustain healthy populations and environments. Therefore, we must be able to comprehend the role behavior and social factors play and how they contribute to public health solutions and policies in order to reach this goal. The social and behavioral health sciences have a crucial role in public health policies and decisions, as the work professionals in this field do is focused on identifying and analyzing the social determinants and behavioral risk factors associated with any number of public health issues. Afterward, they use this information to better understand how to promote and achieve healthy behaviors within certain communities and populations.

Understanding social sciences and behavioral health sciences.

Social sciences refer to subjects that examine and explain human beings in a variety of ways – from understanding how minds work, to how societies as a whole function. Therefore, social and behavioral science involves the study of how human behavior impacts personal thoughts, decisions, interactions, and actions. Most importantly, understanding human behavior can act as a powerful tool for those who wish to influence people’s health choices.

Factors that influence people’s health choices.

Social and behavioral researchers study various factors that influence human behavior. These factors include the following:

·         Psychological factors.

Psychological factors such as motivation can determine what a person chooses to do or not do. A belief in one’s ability to achieve a task also plays a role in influencing choices and behavior. Therefore, unmet needs tend to motivate people into action and affect their behavior.

·         Behavioral influences.

People’s values, their assessment of risk, the extent to which a choice conflicts with their beliefs or attitudes, and their culture can all play a role in how people behave and the choices they make.

·         Biological Influences.

Biological factors such as age, sex, and genetics can also influence people’s behavior and emotions. For instance, people inherit characteristics that influence behavior traits such as impulsiveness or reticence.

·         Societal Influences.

Societal factors may influence people to change their behavior and ideas to fit into a social group. People may also shift their decisions or attitudes to meet the demands of their own social roles or perceived authority.

What are some of the examples of disciplines studied under the field of behavioral science?

Behavioral science is a broad field that has many disciplines that affect or address human actions in some way. Some examples of these disciplines include:

  • Psychology.
  • Sociology.
  • Social and cultural anthropology.
  • Criminology.
  • Biology.
  • Political science.
  • Political science.


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