Other Projects

Anti-littering Nudge Project
(Funded by Keep Scotland Beautiful)

A ‘nudge’ is the manipulation of any aspect of ‘choice architecture’ that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. This project aims to encourage better use of street litter bins by enhancing bin salience. It does this by painting the bins in a bright colour to  make them more visible and easier for people to find, and by painting footprints on the ground leading up to the bins as a prompt to infer the intended correct action, ie. to use the bin. The project builds on an anti-littering nudge intervention carried out in Copenhagen in 2011 by applying a rigorous experimental design, and extending the original work to examine the impact of longer term exposure on bin use. The study uses a before and after design implemented in a single site to comparing intervention against a normal state baseline over four stages: baseline, one week, four week and eight week follow-up.  Impact on littering is assessed by distributing free, single items of wrapped confectionery to people as they move across the study site and measuring numbers of items correctly binned or discarded on the ground within a designated study area. The study is being undertaken with our collaboration partner Keep Scotland Beautiful and is funded by Zero Waste Scotland. It is due to report in 2015. 

ISM Staff: Douglas Eadie and Martine Stead

BME Feasibility and Ethnographic Study in deprived areas in the Southside of Glasgow
(Funded by NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (GGC))

This is a scoping and feasibility study in deprived areas in the Southside of Glasgow, which will build on previous work on the black and ethnic minority ethic (BME) population in the area, focused on smoking cessation and health inequalities. It will provide baseline data for NHS GGC and a policy-oriented report with recommendations for further research, projects and interventions in these communities using an assets-based approach.

ISM Staff: Marisa de Andrade

Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture in Scotland: Research Consortium
(Funded by NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts)

CREATES (Consortium for  Research into Arts and Technology in Scotland) is a multi-university consortium funded by NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), Creative Scotland and the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council). It is working with arts and cultural organisations in Scotland funded it under the Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture in Scotland to understand and test the potential offered by new digital technologies.

Their research will support the organisations to work with digital experts to understand and test the potential offered by new technologies to connect with wider audiences and explore new ways of working. The interdisciplinary team is led by Professor Claire Squires and includes researchers at Stirling from the Faculty of Social sciences, the Centre for International Publishing and Communication, the Institute of Socio-Management and the Institute for Social Marketing, as well as researchers from the Universities of Strathclyde and St Andrews.

ISM Staff: Mark Grindle

Something to Declare? Gathering Perceptions of Illicit Tobacco Through Radio
(Funded by NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde)

This project uses innovative methods to explore how illicit tobacco is viewed by deprived communities in Scotland. Unlike the usual survey or interview-based approach, the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (GGC) funded study enables participation via workshops on radio production and broadcasting skills. Whilst engaged in this training, participants are encouraged to discuss their perceptions of illicit tobacco and prepare radio programmes. Guided by an assets-based approach, it empowers participants by teaching essential skills to improve employability and encourage creativity in communities. Findings will be used to inform the development of a social marketing campaign across the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde area.

ISM Staff: Marisa de Andrade

Community, School and Workplace Initiatives to Encourage Individuals to Use the Outdoor Environment for Physical Activity
(Commissioned on behalf of the National Physical Activity Research and Evaluation group (NPARE) by NHS Health Scotland)

The aim of this review was to identify and review evidence of the effectiveness of initiatives and interventions delivered in the community, school, or workplace setting which have been designed to encourage individuals to use their local outdoor environment to increase their physical activity, and to identify and describe similar initiatives currently being delivered in Scotland. To do this we conducted a rapid review using systematic methods. The study involved two elements, an Evidence Review and the compilation of a Database of Current Activity in Scotland. For the Evidence Review, we searched for systematic reviews, primary studies and grey literature reports. Studies were assessed for relevance and rated for quality. For the Database of Current Activity, we used a mixed methods approach combining online searches, email and telephone contact. The results suggest that some approaches for promoting physical activity in the outdoor environment are effective (for example, walking groups, modifications to the physical environment, some organisational changes). There is insufficient evidence to date for some other approaches, such as conservation and forest schools.

ISM Staff: Martine Stead and Kathryn Angus

Collaborators: Ruth Jepson, Department of Nursing & Midwifery and Adrienne Hughes, Department of Sports Studies, University of Stirling; and Cecilia Oram, Sustrans

Stead M, Angus K, Jepson R, Hughes A and Oram C (2010). Community, school and workplace initiatives to encourage individuals to use the outdoor environment for physical activity. Edinburgh: NHS Health Scotland. Report online

National Prevention Research Initiative

ISM has received funding for three major projects under the prestigious National Prevention Research Initiative (NPRI). The NPRI is a national initiative made up of government departments, research councils and major medical charities that are working together to encourage and support research into chronic disease prevention. Its core aim is to develop and implement successful, cost- effective interventions that reduce people's risk of developing major diseases by influencing their health behaviours.

In December 2005 (Phase 1), the NRPI funded 26 new research projects aimed at preventing cancer, diabetes and heart disease. These diseases were targeted because of their considerable impact on public health: in the UK more than 153,000 people died of cancer in 2004; three million people have diabetes, including up to a million in whom the condition hasn't yet been diagnosed, and coronary heart disease is the UK's most common cause of death, killing around 1 in 5 men and 1 in 6 women.

Now in Phase 4 (2010), the funding partners announced a further funding call. This phase aimed at supporting cross-disciplinary research which developed or tested interventions that can potentially have a major impact on population health, using the full range of evaluation methods, including experimental and quasi-experimental (or observational) designs and natural experiments.

Smoking, poor diet, lack of physical activity and excessive alcohol intake are at the root of these and many other diseases. The NPRI-funded studies explore a range of approaches to promoting positive health behaviour, to encourage people to avoid these habits and to follow a healthy diet and physical activity programme. 

These are the three NPRI projects which the Institute worked/working on:

Public Health Research Consortium (2006-2010)
(Funded by the Department of Health)

ISM is a partner in the DH-funded Public Health Research Consortium (PHRC). The PHRC brings together senior researchers from 11 UK institutions in a new integrated programme of research. This aims to strengthen the evidence base for interventions to improve health, with a strong emphasis on tackling socioeconomic inequalities in health. The PHRC is built around a set of research projects led by senior researchers with expertise in public health, social epidemiology, sociology, survey and evaluation research, social marketing and health economics. The PHRC links teams across eight universities, a survey research agency, a children's charity and a Public Health Observatory (PHO).

It was founded in October 2005 by Professor Hilary Graham (University of York), who was Director from October 2005 to March 2011. It entered its current phase in April 2011, and will run until March 2016, directed by Professor Mark Petticrew (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The PHRC is funded by the Department of Health Policy Research Programme (DH PRP). Its research programme has been developed in consultation with the DH PRP and is informed by current priority needs identified by DH policy teams.

Our programme includes projects on smoking, obesity and their associated risk factors, and, as an important wider determinant, the workplace. It also includes cross-cutting projects and projects to support the translation of evidence into policy and practice, and to apply learning from projects on our chosen themes of smoking, obesity and the workplace to other important determinants of health.

The main collaborators for 2011-2016 are:

  • Prof Mark Petticrew, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - Director
  • Prof Ashley Adamson, Human Nutrition Research Centre, Newcastle University
  • Prof Brian Ferguson, Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Observatory
  • Prof Chris Godfrey, Department of Health Sciences, University of York
  • Prof Hilary Graham, Department of Health Sciences, University of York
  • Seeromanie Harding, MRC Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow
  • Prof Gerard Hastings, Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling and the Open University
  • Prof Catherine Law, Institute of Child Health, University College London
  • Prof Sally Macintyre, MRC Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow
  • Sally McManus, National Centre for Social Research (NatCen)
  • Prof Chris Power, Institute of Child Health, University College London
  • Prof Mark Sculpher, Centre for Health Economics, University of York
  • Catherine Shaw, National Children's Bureau
  • Dr Amanda Sowden, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York
  • Martine Stead, Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling and the Open University
  • Prof Martin White, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University
  • Prof Margaret Whitehead, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool

ISM Staff: Gerard Hastings, Martine Stead, Louise Hassan (left 2007) and Laura McDermott (left 2008)

Review of Social Marketing as a Strategy for Workplace Health and Wellbeing
(In collaboration with GfK and the National Social Marketing Centre for the Health and Safety Executive)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is increasingly aware of the impact that work has on the health and wellbeing of employees. Over and above individual differences between workers, what happens in the workplace – working relationships, job design and content, the physical environment and so on – has a strong effect on employee health and wellbeing. In turn, health and wellbeing is a major determinant of workplace productivity and levels of ill health and sickness absence.

This project explored how social marketing was applied in the area of workplace health, and examined the potential use and benefits of taking a user-driven social marketing approach. The implications for the HSE, businesses and other stakeholders of adopting a social marketing user-driven approach to health safety and wellbeing at work were explored, and the project worked with HSE to shape recommendations for action resulting from the research.

This project had five main deliverables:

  • A systematic literature review(conducted by ISM).
  • Case studies of organisations that have introduced workplace initiatives aimed at improving health and wellbeing.
  • Qualitative work with a range of employers and employees to generate insights into the types of practical workplace initiatives most likely to benefit workers' health and wellbeing and how these could be most effectively marketed to these two groups.
  • Recommendations about how HSE and other organisations could work together to deliver (or support the delivery of) such interventions.
  • A dissemination strategy to promote the sharing of information and insights from the research and to contribute to the evidence for social marketing as a strategy tool.

ISM Staff: Martine Stead and Kathryn Angus

NICE Reviews

(Commissioned by the National Institute for Clinical and Health Excellence)

As part of the National Institute for Clinical and Health Excellence's (NICE) programme for developing public health guidance on behaviour change, a review was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions in areas outside of core public health activities. The aim was to gather evidence from other fields that might transfer to or yield useful learning for public health interventions. Three systematic reviews were undertaken addressing three topic areas: road safety, pro-environmental behaviour, and commercial marketing targeted at low-income groups. The review identified several key, fairly generic learning points for public health and has informed NICE national guidance on behaviour change.

The NICE reports can be found on their website:

ISM Staff: Laura McDermott (left 2008), Martine Stead, Gerard Hastings and Kathryn Angus

Social Marketing Health Improvement in Scotland
(Commissioned by the Scottish Executive and NHS Health Scotland)

This study was undertaken to inform the development of a national social marketing health improvement strategy for Scotland. The research re-appraised existing health improvement campaigns and initiatives, including the 'West of Scotland Cancer Awareness Project' and 'Think About It', critically and constructively by applying a social marketing framework. Questions were asked about the extent to which programmes used research to really understand their target audiences, if they considered what benefits (or 'exchange') they were offering to motivate changes in behaviour, and whether they identified and accounted for competing influences in their strategy. Information was gathered using desk research, stakeholder interviews, consumer focus groups, and by hosting an expert seminar with leading thinkers in Scottish health improvement. The study identified lessons for best practice and, more broadly, the main strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for health improvement in Scotland. It will now directly inform the development of a social marketing strategy for health improvement in Scotland.

ISM Staff: Laura McDermott (left 2008), Martine Stead and Gerard Hastings

Health and Well-Being of Minority Ethnic Communities in Greater Glasgow
(Commissioned by Greater Glasgow NHS Board)

This research was designed to provide information on indicators of health and well-being in Pakistani, Indian, African and Caribbean communities living in Greater Glasgow, expanding on previous general population surveys. Collaborating with the Centre for Applied Social Psychology, University of Strathclyde, a culturally sensitive questionnaire and face-to-face interviewing by those familiar with individual cultures allowed description of health and well-being together with identification of specific health needs and service issues, while enabling comparison with the population of Greater Glasgow as a whole. This research can also be seen to constitute a part of GGNHSB's ongoing commitment to address the health and health service needs of black and minority ethnic people living in Greater Glasgow.

ISM Staff: Susan MacAskill, Susan Anderson (left 2005) and Derek Heim (CASP)

Attitudes, Beliefs and Practices Relating to the Production and Use of Compost
(Commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council)

This in-depth qualitative study explored the attitudes, beliefs, and practices of Scottish households relating to the production and use of compost. Over the past decade there has been a major push to reduce the volume of organics going to landfill; the UK has a policy goal of involving half of all households in composting by 2006. This research was undertaken to help assess the feasibility and effectiveness of garden composting schemes.

The research was part of a wider quantitative study undertaken by BRASS Research Centre at Cardiff University which analysed the waste management behaviours of householders in the Cardiff recycling trial areas and examined the effectiveness of awareness raising and educational initiatives.

ISM Staff: Laura McDermott (left 2008) and Douglas Eadie

McDermott L, Eadie D, Peattie K, Peattie S, Hastings G and Anderson S (2004). Domestic Composting: Challenges and Opportunities for Social Marketing. Academy of Marketing Conference, Gloucester, UK.

Questionnaire Module Development
(Commissioned by the Health Education Board for Scotland)

This study involved the development of question modules on the themes of 'parenting', 'mental health' and 'sexual health' for incorporation into the Health Education Board for Scotland Health Education Population Survey. The Survey was conducted twice a year with a random sample of the Scottish population. The question module for each theme was developed and tested separately in a two-phase research process. The first phase involved exploratory qualitative research, in the form of focus groups, to explore each theme from the perspective of the general population. This enabled the research team to gain an insight into the target population's knowledge, attitudes, behaviour, experience and understanding of each of the three topics and also examine the vocabulary they used when discussing each topic. In addition it allowed an assessment of respondents' willingness and comfort when discussing potentially sensitive topics such as sexual health and mental health. The first phase informed the development of draft survey questions which were then cognitively tested to examine understanding and suitability of content and layout. These cognitive interviews were in-depth and qualitative in nature allowing the research to examine comprehension and ability to answer as well as appropriateness and acceptability of questions on sensitive topics such as mental health and sexual health.

ISM Staff: Susan MacAskill

HIV/AIDS Prevention in East Africa
(Funded by DIFD)

ISM worked with Futures Group Europe to evaluate a schools-based HIV/AIDS behaviour change programme in Kenya. The PSABH programme was developed and delivered by the Centre for British Teachers and was targeting Standard 6, 7 and 8 pupils in 1250 primary schools in the southern province of Nyanza. The evaluation combined process and outcome evaluation with pupils, teaching staff and local community members. The three year programme was funded by DIFD.

ISM Staff: Douglas Eadie

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