Using social norms theory for health promotion in low-income countries
Cislaghi, B.; Heise, L.
Health Promotion International 34(3): 616-623
ISSN/ISBN: 1460-2245 PMID: 29579194 DOI: 10.1093/heapro/day017
Social norms can greatly influence people's health-related choices and behaviours. In the last few years, scholars and practitioners working in low- and mid-income countries (LMIC) have increasingly been trying to harness the influence of social norms to improve people's health globally. However, the literature informing social norm interventions in LMIC lacks a framework to understand how norms interact with other factors that sustain harmful practices and behaviours. This gap has led to short-sighted interventions that target social norms exclusively without a wider awareness of how other institutional, material, individual and social factors affect the harmful practice. Emphasizing norms to the exclusion of other factors might ultimately discredit norms-based strategies, not because they are flawed but because they alone are not sufficient to shift behaviour. In this paper, we share a framework (already adopted by some practitioners) that locates norm-based strategies within the wider array of factors that must be considered when designing prevention programmes in LMIC.