Translating Developmental Origins: Improving the Health of Women and Their Children Using a Sustainable Approach to Behaviour Change.
Barker M., Baird J., Tinati T., Vogel C., Strömmer S., Rose T., Begum R., Jarman M., Davies J., Thompson S., Taylor L., Inskip H., Cooper C., Nutbeam D., Lawrence W.
Theories of the developmental origins of health and disease imply that optimising the growth and development of babies is an essential route to improving the health of populations. A key factor in the growth of babies is the nutritional status of their mothers. Since women from more disadvantaged backgrounds have poorer quality diets and the worst pregnancy outcomes, they need to be a particular focus. The behavioural sciences have made a substantial contribution to the development of interventions to support dietary changes in disadvantaged women. Translation of such interventions into routine practice is an ideal that is rarely achieved, however. This paper illustrates how re-orientating health and social care services towards an empowerment approach to behaviour change might underpin a new developmental focus to improving long-term health, using learning from a community-based intervention to improve the diets and lifestyles of disadvantaged women. The Southampton Initiative for Health aimed to improve the diets and lifestyles of women of child-bearing age through training health and social care practitioners in skills to support behaviour change. Analysis illustrates the necessary steps in mounting such an intervention: building trust; matching agendas and changing culture. The Southampton Initiative for Health demonstrates that developing sustainable; workable interventions and effective community partnerships; requires commitment beginning long before intervention delivery but is key to the translation of developmental origins research into improvements in human health.