Institute for Social Marketing and Health

The Institute for Social Marketing and Health (ISMH) is the UK’s leading social marketing research centre, bringing over 35 years' experience to the study and dissemination of social marketing theory and practice.

ISMH conducts research in three areas:

  • The use of social marketing concepts and theory to understand health behaviour and to inform the development and evaluation of behaviour change interventions.
  • The critical examination of the effects of commercial marketing on health and society.
  • The impact of policies to control commercial marketing and to protect public health.

ISMH’s work on the effects of tobacco, alcohol and food marketing is internationally recognised and has informed policy and legislation in the UK and worldwide. In 1998 Cancer Research UK provided funding to establish the Centre for Tobacco Control Research within ISMH.

ISMH is a partner in two major research collaborations:

  • The UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS), a network of 13 universities (12 in the UK, one in New Zealand) funded by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration. UKCTAS aims to deliver and build capacity in high quality tobacco and alcohol research, and its work includes developing strategies for behaviour change in tobacco and alcohol use, assessing risks, identifying measures to reduce harm, monitoring the tobacco and alcohol industries, and developing effective public policies to improve public health and wellbeing.  
  • The Public Health Research Consortium (PHRC), a policy research collaboration funded by the Department of Health Policy Research Programme (DH PRP). It comprises senior researchers from 11 UK institutions in a new integrated programme of research, with the aim of strengthening the evidence base for interventions to improve health, with a strong emphasis on tackling socioeconomic inequalities in health.  

Work of ISMH

The Institute conducts research in three key areas:

  • The development and evaluation of behaviour change interventions based on social marketing principles.
  • The impact of public policy on health and social welfare
  • The impact of commercial marketing on the health and behaviour of individuals and of society more generally.

Questions, Evidence and Myths About Social Marketing