Public Outreach in Health Psychology
Submitted by Anita Mehay on Sat, 30/09/2017 - 22:55
Knowledge of Health Psychology is growing, but still weak in the general public, often trumped by people’s knowledge and perceptions of counselling psychology or clinical psychology. Therefore there is an urgent need to increase awareness of Health Psychology, what Health Psychology can do and what it is to be a Health Psychologist. We (at the Centre for Health and Relationships research, University of Buckingham) were recently been awarded the DHP public engagement grant for 2017, and having got underway with some of our outreach projects, it is a great time to take stock of what works and what doesn’t when talking to the public. We have run a pop-up Health Psychology lab, taking the lab to large STEM festivals, town centres, schools and community events.
Create a distinctive brand. Use ‘pop-up lab banners’, wear ‘pop-up lab’ lab coats. It may be stereotypical, but people are drawn to traditional signifiers of science and inquiry. Make the link with health psychology explicit through banners and DHP logos.
Edible freebies. People move in for the sweets and then move away without discussion.
For the future:
As we look to expand our lab, we hope to learn from our events, improve our outcomes and promote health psychology even more widely. Here are some things that look promising:
Invite participants from research studies. We work closely with patient populations, recently working with chronic pain support groups and those with spinal cord injury. If they’ve been involved in your research, invite them to take part, to staff and to visit your stand.