Do you want to help people change their behaviours for the better? Then a career in health interventions could be for you, write University of Gloucestershire doctors and Interventions4Health Team Elizabeth Loughren and Colin Baker.
What are health interventions?
Health interventions are programmes or concepts that are used to help individuals make a behaviour change, generally to improve a person’s health or well-being. These include helping people start an exercise programme to lower risks for heart disease or diabetes through to programmes aimed at reducing smoking or drinking to help improve physical and mental health. Interventions can take many forms, such as a website, apps, small groups or classes, to flyers and posters with different health messages and targets.
What kind of courses and skills do I need?
General courses in psychology, physical activity, health promotion and counselling are useful as is an interest in the importance of a living healthy life. Being confident with numbers and gaining research skills, such as developing questionnaires and web surveys is important. So too is being confident asking people questions about themselves and being part of a team.
Where would I be able to work?
Jobs are offered in a variety of different places. Some positions are based at universities which often develop, design and evaluate the health interventions. Other posts are located in health agencies, such as the NHS or within community settings including local councils or charities like the British Heart Foundation.
“Interventions can take many forms, such as a website, apps, small groups or classes, to flyers and posters with different health messages and targets.”
Who is involved in health interventions?
To make sure they make an impact health interventions are usually run by a number of different organisations who share the same goal of improving people’s health. For instance, at the University of Gloucestershire we work with: local football and rugby teams; the NHS and GP surgeries; county councils; an art programme; leisure centres; small community centres, andother universities and national organizations that focus on physical activity, health, and well-being.
How do I get experience?
If you are interested in gaining experience it is a good idea to do some research on what agencies or programmes are available within your area as well as what type of intervention you would like to get involved with. Volunteering is a really valuable way of learning how interventions actually work and can make all the difference in what you are hoping to get out of the experience. Also, organizations and universities often take on paid or un-paid work experience positions based upon the type of intervention they are conducting, so these may be good locations to get your initial experience and insight.