Transcript of episode 13 of our behavioural insights podcast – Nudges for Social Good – featuring public health lead at Doncaster Council, Caroline Temperton, and professor of health psychology and director of the Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University, Maddy Arden.
Rhian Gladman: Welcome to the latest episode of Nudges for Social Good, the LGA's podcast about behaviour change. So each month we release an episode of a conversation which shares councils or other public sector organisations experience of running a project to change behaviour locally. I'm Rhian Gladman and I manage the behavioural insights programme here at the LGA, and previously in our programme we've supported individual councils to run their insights projects. But this year we've taken a very different approach at the LGA, and we've started to work with groups or consortiums of councils in regions across the country. And today I'm delighted to be joined by the Yorkshire and Humber consortium, good morning ladies, thank you for being with us today.
Maddy Arden: Morning.
Caroline Temperton: Morning, Rhian.
Rhian Gladman: Morning. Can you please introduce yourselves and your job roles, please.
Caroline Temperton: Yes. Hi everyone and thank you for listening in, my name's Caroline Temperton and I'm the public health lead at Doncaster Council for the wider determinants of health. And this area of work includes a variety of topics such as spacial planning, air quality, and active travel, for which I chair an active travel alliance in Doncaster. This alliance brings together partners across the council whose work impacts on active travel, so for example that might be transportation, highways, road safety, planning colleagues, and anyone really that's got some kind of connection with active travel or the infrastructure of behaviour change to it. And hence my participation in this behavioural insights project.
Rhian Gladman: That's a role with huge parts to it there, Caroline, so thank you for being with us this morning, and looking forward to digging into more of what the job entails and the types of work you've been doing as we go through. Maddy, over to you.
Maddy Arden: Yes, hi, I'm Maddy Arden, I'm professor of health psychology and director of the Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University. And we have been the sort of supplier if you like, the advisors on this project, and we've supported a group of six local authorities from across Yorkshire and Humber through this programme of work. And we work across, kind of, lots of different behaviours, so whilst I'm a professor of health psychology I don't just do behavioural science in relation to health any more, although that's how I started. So yes, that's the involvement.
Rhian Gladman: And that's interesting Maddy, your role, because that's our experience of working in behavioural science in local government, it very much started, grew out of the public health field, and we've seen it really flourish across all of the many, many services that councils run. So I think it's interesting your role has sort of tracked that development as well.
Maddy Arden: Yes, I mean, lots of, I think, the sort of theoretical developments and the frameworks and methods that come from that health sector, but actually they're applicable to all sorts of behaviours. And obviously there's, sort of, other fields as well so, like, behavioural economics that has also kind of contributed. So I think behavioural science now is a bringing together of all those theories and methods, from health psychology, from behavioural economics, from other places as well. And we're drawing on all of them and applying them to lots of different behaviours.
Rhian Gladman: Excellent. So let's start at the very beginning shall we. So tell me more about how the Yorkshire and Humber consortium came to being.
Caroline Temperton: So one of my colleagues over at Bradford Council, Nicky Knowles, had the thought to pull together a consortium, and got in touch with other local authority partners that she thought might be interested across the region to see what appetite there was for participation in a collaborative project. I think we were aware at that time that LGA had not done a collaborative behavioural insights programme before, and I think people were really keen to get involved and do it as a consortium, and get involved in that way, understand as well a little bit more about the LGA behavioural insights programme and what that can bring to a local authority. Either working in a collaborative way or as an individual local authorities as happened before.
Rhian Gladman: Yes, excellent. Sorry, Maddy.
Maddy Arden: And I think that built on-, so it was Nicky Knowles, wasn't it, from Bradford, and she at the time was co-chairing with me a behavioural science hub which was part of the public health network, and we still are, kind of, building a capacity in public health colleagues around behavioural science and getting interested people. But the consortium went wider than the group that we had at that beginning, so Nicky, kind of, contacted the people she knew through that network, but also other colleagues in other local authorities who perhaps weren't so engaged in the behavioural sort of science network at that point. But that's certainly something that sort of, I think, was a beginning of that network and collaboration starting.
Rhian Gladman: So is it sort of fair to say it was a mixture of some people who had experience of working in behavioural science, and others that didn't, so it was a mixed approach?
Maddy Arden: Absolutely, yes. So I think some people were, you know, quite embedded in the behavioural science world, other people were interested but didn't have so much, sort of, knowledge or experience but were keen to kind of see how it could apply to their work and the value that they could get from it.
Caroline Temperton: And I think as well because active travel has become such a dominant topic, I suppose, throughout the pandemic, and, you know, beyond that, and how people have sort of embraced it in some ways, I think the topic area as well for all the local authorities and the payroll (ph 06.15) science team to come together on was at the top of everybody's agenda. So I think what ever topic area is picked as well for the collaboration is key.
Rhian Gladman: So what was the behaviour that you were trying to change as a consortium?
Caroline Temperton: Well, it took a lot of discussion to get to a point, didn't it Maddy, as a group? But we wanted to increase active travel for local short journeys. By that we put some criteria around it, so when we're talking about active travel we're talking about predominately walking and cycle. And we're based initially on the 20 minute neighbourhood concept, where we're encouraging people, you know, they can travel for maybe ten minutes actively, and ten minutes back, and it's just a short journey within their local area to their local services, so that could be shops or farms, you know, at the community centre, whatever. And we built our intervention around that concept.
Maddy Arden: It did take a bit of pinning down, actually, because I think, you know, everybody came with a slightly different conception of what active travel was, and as Caroline said asking something realistic that everybody could probably do. So we weren't sort of asking people to cycle 20 miles into work or whatever, we were asking people to, kind of, in their local area, change and make a change so that it was active travel. So yes, as Caroline said, we sort of pinned that down to within the local area, and then we defined it in the end both in terms of time and distance. Because cycling and time and walking and time, you get to different distances. So we're talking about, sort of, a mile away from home in the end, and that's what we managed to pin it down to. And it was important to pin it down because then when we went onto the trial we knew we needed to measure it, so we needed to have something that was really clear, and we all understood that we were talking about the same thing. And so we did spend some time at the beginning of the project, sort of, agreeing what we all meant by active travel before we kind of progressed further.
Rhian Gladman: I guess that's, sort of, the first key learning point isn't it, really? You know, and the reason why we wanted the LGA to go for this more consortium approach is to scale up and make sure you're getting the numbers through the trials, which can be an issue can't it? With smaller units of government that some councils can be, and the smaller units of the audience, the target audience, the demographic we're trying to approach actually. By going on a regional approach you're starting to address the concerns of scale but that brings with it-, you know, you've got to get that consensus. What was your top tip for other councils listening in who are thinking, 'We want to form a consortium.' What's your top tip for getting to that consensus reasonably quickly?
Maddy Arden: So I think we had a period where we were discussing what everybody was thinking, so you have to have a sort of discovery part of the conversation which is, 'How is everybody defining it?' And then we did, I think, during that discussion, think about the fact that we had to measure it because that was something that was coming. So that was sort of guiding the discussion partly. And then I think it was just, kind of, different views of, you know-, obviously we had quite different local authorities with different areas so we had some some, sort of, urban city councils like Bradford, and then we have North Yorkshire which is very rural and quite different. So those different places had, sort of, different things to think about(TC 00:10:00). And just, you know, we would gradually kind of narrow that discussion down I think into the key things everybody agreed on, and then I think the role from my point of view from (inaudible 10.13) is we try to, sort of, write that down in a definition that everyone could say, 'Yes, that's it.' But yes, we did go round and round a little bit, didn't we Caroline, I think?
Caroline Temperton: We did. I think it was defining that, 'What are we actually asking people to do?' And because of the nature of the geography of the different local authority areas, as Maddy said, you know, linking in that we didn't want people to start having to cycle 20 miles or walk for miles on end. But we know that some of those geographical areas, they're really small villages, and they've not got a lot of services within them, so that's why we really tailored it down to that short, very short journey, that we could expect people to do. But I think from my perspective of being a member of the collaborative, it was having that impartial facilitate, if you like, so Maddy and team, that could really draw out of us as a group what we wanted to achieve, and do that, have that conversation. Because sometimes it's difficult to step back when you're in the midst of it, and take that broader view of what you're wanting to get out of something, and understand everybody's different circumstances so it all comes together. And I think if we'd had not had Maddy and her team there to do that we could have been going around in circles for a long time on that point. Because obviously as well, we've all got our own passion for what we want to do in our own local authority areas, we know our areas quite well and it's, like, 'Oh, I didn't really want to do that, I wanted to do this.' But actually because we could facilitate that in a really-, I mean, nobody acted like that, don't get me wrong. But, you know, we all come with our own preconceived ideas, don't we, of what we want. But having Maddy and team there to do that and support us through it is my top tip, get somebody to help you do that, whether it's somebody from a behavioural science team or just somebody that's completely impartial to it and can ask those questions and get that deeper understanding, and that group come together and come to that consensus would be my top tip, I think, for a collaborative piece. Well, even if you were working in your own local authority area, it might be even more important because you still need somebody to bounce ideas off.
Rhian Gladman: Yes, I think that's a really key point, isn't it? It's almost like you're coming to the collective, as you called it, and you sort of have to, 'Ideally, we'd love this challenge or this trial in our local area,' but actually we're going into the collective here and there'll be a bit of compromise. But it's about, you know-, it was across Yorkshire and that makes more of a regional trial, wasn't it, that you were trying to get to. It's keeping that outcome in mind, isn't it, I think it's really important as you go through it. So you've got your consensus around what the trial is, what the behaviour is that you're trying to change, what happened next?
Maddy Arden: So we did a bit of a scoping review, and this was a mixture of looking at the literature, so, you know, the academic papers that are out there, but also, sort of, reports and things that've been done previously. But we also asked, and the local authorities had done lots of, kind of, insight work already, so that was really, really important, I think, to draw on what had happened before. We weren't coming into this, you know, blind, everyone had been doing work in their different local authorities about active travel. So we kind of drew that all together and we started to use the framework which we then went onto use through the whole of the work, the sort of combi framework, the capability, opportunity and motivation. And we looked at the kinds of barriers and facilitators that people had identified both in the literature and in the work that had been done by the local authorities up to then, to see the kinds of things that people were identifying as being important. So that was sort of a first step, you know, rather than-, it's not a blank slate,'There's been loads of work here already, what can we learn from that?' That was the sort of first step I think, Caroline, yes/
Caroline Temperton: Yes, and I think-, did we then move onto the focus groups, Maddy? To sort of consolidate some of those findings from the evidence review that'd taken place. So each local authority held a focus group within their-, well, we had to do it virtually. I think that was the thing throughout this, we didn't know whether we were going to be in lockdowns or not throughout the time that we worked this. So that was sort of a bit of another spanner that was thrown in. But we all facilitated each local authority rep with support from Maddy's team, a focus group with a group of-, I think there were about six or 7 people in most of the focus groups. And we just run through a series of, similar to this, it was more of a conversation and we went through a series of different points that we wanted to talk about. But that all linked again to the combi model so when we got the findings from that it could be easily matched against what had been found in the literature of you to see if anything different came out, any new thoughts that had come up that we'd not thought about, and, you know, it was really interesting to do that. We used an organisation to organise the focus groups, so it wasn't reliant on the local authority getting the people. And what I really liked about that was it wasn't the usual suspects that we sometimes get when we're putting out consultations and focus groups and things with a local authority setting. It was a completely different group of people that probably we wouldn't have reached without using that organisation to do that.
Rhian Gladman: I was smiling there because not only were you like a guinea pig for the consortium approach, you were doing it during Covid as well.
Caroline Temperton: Yes.
Rhian Gladman: And then the lockdowns and, you know, that's really important context, isn't it? The huge challenge that you guys were all going through at the time, and workload and pressures, and yes, doing it all virtually. I think, yes, that's another key learning point for me is actually using that other organisation to get the attendees onto the focus group. Can you say more about that please? I think that's really important for people listening.
Maddy Arden: Yes, so we've worked with an organisation called QA who we've worked with on a number of projects, and they're a research organisation. And they can help with recruitment, basically, so they have access to, sort of, panels and links and people like that. Or they will stand, and I think this is what they did for this project. They went to the local authorities where they wanted to recruit and they stood around in clipboards in sensible places and recruited people to take part in these focus groups. And I think, yes, as Caroline says, if you're using, kind of, usual channels then you are getting the same voices in different sort of projects. And I think making sure that we had, sort of, a sampling framework, so we wanted to make sure we had a mix of genders, a mix of ethnicities that represented the local authorities where we were doing the focus group. We only did one in each local authority, partly, sort of, time, and things like that, and it had a number of-, so, it was really useful for the project to make sure, as I say, those findings, or as Caroline says rather, the findings from the literature match the sort of barriers and facilitators in the local authorities. And there were some differences, one that springs to mind as an obvious one is hills being an issue in some parts of Yorkshire and Humber, but less so in others, for example. But it was also an opportunity, so part of the purpose of this project was, sort of, upskilling the local authorities in doing behavioural science work. So we offered them some training around doing those focus groups, and then as Caroline said, the local authority representatives, like Caroline, a person from each local authority, ran those focus groups with support from us, so they're kind of gaining those skills in doing that.
And that's partly around, sort of, the kinds of questions that you ask. So some of the downsides of looking at the literature is that you get the answers around the questions that you've asked about, whereas what we try to do when we design the topic guide in collaboration with all the local authorities was make sure that we were asking around the full range of things that theory suggested impacts on behaviour. So we asked questions about peoples, sort of, capability things, opportunity things, motivational things, so we had a really big range. And we can't say that from the literature that's gone before because it depends what the questions were. So I think that was a really, sort of, valuable point, and using an organisation like QA also sped things up massively, so we were doing this in a short space of time, and that was really valuable. Just to add the other thing, the focus groups were online, and obviously in Covid times that's something we've all had to switch to for all of the projects we've done. I have to say, I think we've recognised the value of online focus groups much more than we ever had before. I think for many people that's actually just easier for the participants, so you can be at home, you know, you haven't got child care issues. We've had focus groups with children in the background, dogs, whatever, that's fine. So it makes it easier for the participants, and actually to some extent for the facilitator I think it does as well because sometimes in a focus group you can have people talking over each other in a room, so kind of multiple conversations going on. And an online focus group sort of prevents that from happening because you can't have everybody talking over each other, the system doesn't allow that to happen, it kind of cuts out the sound. So it kind of created a bit more of a structure, and (TC 00:20:00)with, you know, facilitation, everybody's still able to have their say. So I think there's definitely some learning about the value of online focus groups that we were sort of forced into accidentally but they'll be quite useful, I think, going forward.
Caroline Temperton: I totally agree Maddy, and sometimes a formality comes when you're bring a group of people together, it's almost like a formal meeting, and people are in an area that they're not comfortable in, it's somewhere that they've maybe not been before if we do it in a, you know, room at our council offices or a community centre even. It's not somewhere that people feel quite comfortable. But I think people being in their own homes gave it a much more softer sense of relaxation, and people just seemed to, you know, they were just sat on their sofas having a cup of tea and talking, and it just seemed a lot more friendly, if you like. So, yes, I totally agree Maddy, I think people felt a bit more comfortable in that way. And, you know, it acts as a bit of a barrier, doesn't it, having a screen in front of you? You don't feel quite as open, I suppose, but yes, I thought it worked really well.
Rhian Gladman: I think, yes, that's a really important point, isn't it? We need to understand what the barriers are for all of the local community to the behaviour we want to change, don't we? And I think if this is a more accessible way of doing that, and actually understanding the challenges for all of the sections of the community, then that's only a good thing, isn't it. So you've mentioned there about hills, what other insights were you going? This is the bit I find fascinating. What are people telling you are the reasons why they are not doing active travel across Yorkshire and Humber?
Caroline Temperton: Weather(Laughter).
Rhian Gladman: Really important.
Maddy Arden: I have to say-, yes, and actually when we did the trial and we asked an open-ended question about the, sort of, biggest barrier to active travel it was weather. But just to add, it was done during the period of the huge storms that we had in early 2022 so yes, weather is probably normally a factor but I think it was probably emphasised more than usual just because of the time it was done. I'm just getting to-,
Caroline Temperton: But, I think-, was time something, Maddy, that came out quite often?
Maddy Arden: Yes. So there was a really big range of factors, I think.
Caroline Temperton: Yes.
Maddy Arden: And, you know, some of them are quite unique to people, and some of them lots of people experience. So yes there's definitely a time factor or a perception of a time factor, and that's perhaps something that's quite important because there was a perception that it would take longer to walk or cycle. But then obviously if you, kind of, maybe factored in the parking, you know. So people weren't thinking about the parking time or those kinds of things, but there was definitely a sort of perception of time that it took longer. There was an issue around planning that you'd sort of-, well not necessarily an issue, actually, people who were more active, because we had a mixture in the focus groups. And I think that was really important because we found out what worked for people as well as what was getting in the way. So people who planned things better were able to be more active, so that might mean that they sort of parked the car and walked for a bit, for example, that's how they, kind of, got activity in. Or they, yes, they kind of planned, sort of, specific routes, things like that. They were knowledgable about the sort of benefits of physical activity, I guess, as well. And that was quite an interesting one, actually, because for some people active travel was part of their physical activity. You know, they wanted to be active and it was part of it. But for other people their physical activity was something completely separate to how they travelled, so for them it was, kind of, their activity was going to the gym or doing some kind of sport. And they didn't really, kind of, think about or talking about active travel as being something, that was just how you got somewhere. So they hadn't, sort of, made that connection. And so that was a really interesting finding, I think. For some people it was very much about where they lived and what was around them. So for some people they just didn't have, sort of, shops or takeaways or whatever close enough, within a mile to walk to. So some of this was, you know, it wasn't for everybody.
But for some people they lived in places that there weren't places to walk to or that they would want to walk to or that they felt safe walking to in their local area. So it was very much around the environment around them, the sort of opportunities in the combi model, if you like, that was important. And those safety concerns were some of the things that stopped people from walking and cycling. I'm just thinking about the other ones. Kind of carrying stuff.
Caroline Temperton: Yes.
Maddy Arden: That was another really important one. So, you know, you can go to the local shop and buy, sort of, a loaf of bread or whatever, but to go and do a bigger shop you need to be able to get that home. So, you know, depending on how fit and healthy you were, or things like that affected whether people thought they could carry stuff, and if they couldn't carry stuff then they would choose to take the car. So there was a really wide range of factors, really, some of which, in the sort of next steps that we went into, thought we were amenable to change, we could do something about, and some of them we really couldn't. So that was part of the sort of next steps, actually, kind of going through these. So we categorised them around sort of capability, opportunity and motivation, and the different sort of factors underneath of those. And then we sort of spent some time, didn't we Caroline, looking at, 'Well, okay, what can we do about each of those? Can we do anything about them?' Within the context of the trial. But also in the context of the local authorities taking some of those reasons back to other aspects of work to feed into, you know, other bits of planning around active travel. I don't know, Caroline, if-,
Caroline Temperton: Yes, so I think as part of the collaboration, back to that clarity around what we were trying to achieve, we had to really focus down on what we could do as an intervention for this particular behavioural insights programme. But I think one of the main things for me, aside from the findings from the programme, and I know the local authority colleagues that have been involved is, those findings for our own particular local authority areas that came out of the literature and the focus groups. And the findings as well from the insight project itself. And how we can apply some of those for our long term plans as a local authority. So I mentioned earlier that I'm part of an active travel alliance group that's bringing together all those partners. We can use those findings now to plan, I suppose, and make better, if you want, our interventions going forward. So it's not just stopping with that programme, 'Oh, yes, isn't it nice, we've learnt this and we know that these barriers exist and what we can do about them.' It's actually that we can take some of that learning into our broader local authority work, and use it on a bigger scale. So influencing maybe where infrastructure needs to go, where we need to focus some of our behaviour change, services that we offer as local authorities, we've all got several things, walking groups, learn to ride groups. You know, there's a lot of funding coming through to put in safe cycle ways and path ways, so it's all that we've learnt, it's not going to get left just because it wasn't part of that actual programme. It's what we're taking away as extra information,if you like, to inform us for our future planning locally.
Rhian Gladman: That's a really important point, isn't it, the what next point. We've obviously got this six month project you guys have been working on that we'll talk about today. But what will continue and, you know, you've built your skills, your confidence, run the focus groups, been trained up in that, and you've got this really valuable insight plotted against the combi model that you can then set up your own next projects, can't you, as a group?
Caroline Temperton: Yes.
Rhian Gladman: And like you say, influencing things like, you know, the opportunity and stuff around geography. And, you know, there are some things you're not going to change, the hills obviously, but there are other things around infrastructure that you can start to do. So you've got your insights, and then what did you do next?
Maddy Arden: So as I said, we sort of looked at all of those and we used something called the Appease Criteria, which looks at-, I'm just going to remind myself what the Appease Criteria is. Affordability, practical ability, effectiveness and cost effectiveness, acceptability, side effects and safety, and equity. So there are, kind of, all really important, sort of, ways to look at, you know, what can we actually choose and what can we actually do here? So we, kind of, thought about those things and went through the sort of list of key barriers that had come out from that literature. And some things we then decided to select as targets for our intervention for this trial, and some things we didn't. So one of the things that came out was (TC 00:30:00) that people wanted to have knowledge about, sort of, cycle and walking routes in their local areas, and the facilities. And although that seemed like a potential target for intervention, and we thought would be really good, when we actually thought about it in the context of six local authorities, and a mile away from everybody's house, the logistics of providing that information was just beyond what we could do in this trial. And that's one of the things that I think, you know, all of the local authorities were sort of quite keen, and they've got lots of information around that, but we couldn't deliver that for every household in Yorkshire and Humber. So on the basis of that it just wasn't practical to do that, that's one of the things that we didn't then include as a target in our intervention. But another that we did was this kind of issue of planning. Actually, people who are able to plan really carefully, how they were going to kind of fit their active travel in, they were able to do it, and we thought we could help with that. So those are the kinds of things, we went through each of those and went, 'Can we do anything about this within the scope of the trial?' And we selected the ones we could. So we ended up with focusing on planning, on focusing, which was a sort of capability issue, a couple of motivation issues, so one was around the beliefs about the positive outcomes of being active and active travel, and having, kind of, positive goals to be active, which sort of links to that point I made earlier around that actually it's part of your activity. And then we had a couple that we didn't address directly but we sort of addressed indirectly which was time and weather and hills, which we can't make time for people and we can't change the weather or the hills. But we can help people to sort of overcome some of those barriers with a bit of pre-planning. So those were the kind of key things that we said, 'Okay, these have come out, and they've come out from all of the local authorities as being relevant. They're going to be the things that we target in our intervention.' And then we then went on to kind of thing about, 'Well, how are we actually going to do that?'
Rhian Gladman: That's an interesting point, isn't it? That actually across all six there was that strong feedback coming through, because that's another challenge. You sort of think when you're working with an individual council maybe it would be quite a local set of insights that you're getting, but I think that's really interesting that across the six, a huge range, like you say, different demographics, rural versus more cities, there's a lot of difference there, you were getting that clear consensus around those themes coming back, it's really interesting.
Maddy Arden: And I think that's partly about how we set it up. As Caroline said earlier, we were focusing this on a large population, so the large, sort of, population of Yorkshire and Humber who were currently using cars, and therefore they could swap to not using cars. We based our, kind of, intervention on that large group, so the needs of that large group. There were certainly in the discussions, weren't there Caroline, early on? So different local authorities had identified sort of sub-populations, if you like, that they were aware weren't being active, travelling actively, that they maybe wanted to focus on. But they were so different. So there wasn't that commonality across the local authorities, and actually, if you wanted to look at, you know-, it would sort of almost be a different piece of work to sort of run focus groups specifically with those populations, and develop very tailored, focused interventions. And that's entirely appropriate. But for this we were trying to do something across six local authorities so we had to look at the commonalities, that was really key.
Caroline Temperton: I think as well we had to consider at that point what else we were already doing in a local authority. So one of the ideas that came up were journeys to and from school, for example. So for example, in Doncaster we're doing a lot of work around that already, and I know some of the other local authorities were, so we didn't want to be, sort of, picking something out where we were already doing some interventions, and it might skew the behavioural insight intervention, if you like. So we had to consider all that as well amongst that, what we'd got funding or what we were working on as projects already that didn't sort of interfere, if you like, with what we wanted to find out from this project. So it was all part of that initial stage of thinking about what we could and what we could all do.
Maddy Arden: So, it was all part of that initial stage of thinking about what we could do, and what we could all do.
Rhian Gladman: That is such an important point, Karen. I'm so glad you've brought that point out because, yes, we need to make sure the sanctity of our project, of our trial actually, so we can say our results, there is causality in our results because it's purely on something that we've not got other interventions and other bits of funding, or other council things going on. Or, other parts of the public sector actually, other partners. Such an important point. So, you've got all your insights, you've gone through the APEASE model. So, what was the final intervention or nudge that you decided on?
Maddy Arden: So, we actually ended up testing two interventions, and I think this is quite an important thing. The, kind of, motivational aspects were the first intervention, so an intervention to motivate people to be active. So, convincing them that, perhaps, there were, sort of, health benefits of travelling actively. There's environmental benefits. But we were aware that different people had, sort of, different motivations. That had come out strongly from the focus groups as well. So, what we did is we devised a motivational intervention where we asked people to identify the kinds of things that were important to them. So, that was around, sort of, the health of themselves and their family, or the environment, or we had a concern in there which was the time. People then selected one of those, and then they had some statements which, sort of, came from the focus groups, really, that reinforced their motivations. We asked them to rank those statements, and the purpose of that ranking exercise wasn't because we were necessarily interested in which one they thought was the most important, but it required them to read them carefully, process them and then put them in order. So, we knew the motivational intervention was, effectively, deciding on a, sort of, personal motivation, rankings and statements that related to that and, in doing so, getting them to think about their motivations for active travel. So, that was the first intervention.
And then the second one was doing that plus this planning. So, what we asked them to do then was to swap one car journey, they could do more than one, but we asked everybody to do at least one, for an active travel journey, and to identify exactly when and where they were going to be active instead of using their car. And then we asked them to think, 'Okay, what might get in the way of that plan?' And asked them to, kind of, make a plan to overcome that. So, it's a, sort of, planning intervention. We had our motivation, our motivation plus goal setting and planning. And then for the trial, we needed a control intervention, so something to compare it to. So, what we did was we created an intervention that was the same in, sort of, structure to the motivational intervention, but we asked them about electric car purchasing. So, it was a, sort of, related behaviour because we're asking about cars and walking. We wanted the people who were doing the questionnaire-, the intervention was embedded within a questionnaire, an online questionnaire. We wanted it to, sort of, seem like a not a weird thing to suddenly be asking them about, and it wasn't within the context of the questionnaire, but it didn't get them to think about active travel, and it didn't get them to plan it. So, it acted as our control.
Rhian Gladman: And also, good insight, I guess, to understand people's (talking over each other 38.34).
Maddy Arden: Yes, we haven't really looked at that data, I have to say.
Rhian Gladman: If they're wanting to potentially, in the future, purchase an electric car. And you talked there about replacing a car journey with a more active journey. Was that, like, in the next week? Was that one car journey a week? Was there that, sort of, detail?
Maddy Arden: Yes. In the next week. Identifying a journey that you could walk instead of using the car. Which one is it? What are you going to do? So, yes, exactly that. It's a, sort of, known behavioural change technique that you're swapping one thing for another. It's used in diet, for example, quite often where we're trying to get people to swap unhealthy things for healthy things. So, yes.
Rhian Gladman: Excellent. And so how did you get the questionnaire out to the community? Can you tell me more about that please?
Maddy Arden: Yes. As I say, it was an online, sort of, survey with an embedded intervention into it that people were randomised to through the system. And we chose that, the logistics, basically, forced the choosing of that, I think, didn't it Caroline?
Caroline Temperton: It did, yes.
Maddy Arden: I don't think there was any other way we could have delivered a trial within the timeframe and over the, sort of, six local authorities that we had. But we did think really carefully about, (TC 00:40:00) you know, how are we going persuade people to do this study? And it's always an issue in any, kind of, trial is getting the participants. The local authorities, you know, were absolutely key in this. A link, effectively, is what people had to click to get onto our questionnaire, and they then got an email two weeks' later to ask them to do a follow-up questionnaire where we asked about their behaviours, again, to see if we'd had an impact. So, it was really through the, sort of, social media platforms and newsletters of the local authorities. To add to that, to incentivise completion we had a prize draw with a prize of £200 for both steps. Because we knew that, you know, you've got to give somebody something back for doing something that's going to take a bit of their time and is a bit of a hassle. So, Caroline, you'll know more about what happened next, I guess.
Caroline Temperton: Yes. So, from the local authority perspective, we received the link when everything was completed. We didn't have any involvement, on a local level, in receiving any data. It all went back to the team that Maddy's working with. So, we didn't see any of that data. We didn't have anything to do with it. We just solely shared the link. And what we all did was put it out, like Maddy says really. We've got loads of different social media channels at local authorities. Email networks that we could pop it into, and just really covered it. I think one thing to say is if you're thinking of doing something where you need a behavioural insight, where you'll need-, well, they'll all need some kind of intervention with the community. You do really need to get your comms people on board at your local authority level to support you in doing that. And I think, throughout this process, we learnt a lot about when and at what point we needed to bring different colleagues in support us in doing that work. So, that's something to think about in your first stages of planning as well. 'Right, who might we need to involve in this?' In this case, comms was a really important piece of that jigsaw to get that out. And then I worked with my comms lead, and we just scheduled different times in. Well, she really did it. Schedule different times in when it was going out. And then we got an end date, and we knew from that point on, we would not be sharing it anymore.
And then, like I say, Maddy and team, you know, they gave us the information about the numbers that had been received. So, yes, it just went through that process. So, the actual intervention, to be fair, didn't take a lot of local authority time in terms of getting it out there. And again, I think doing it in that sense of social media. Well, I wouldn't know without doing some kind of comparison, but I feel we probably got more participants than we might have done if we were trying to go out and speak to people face-to-face, or turn up at places and stuff, and the time it takes. So, I think for doing it online, the numbers that were received and the findings that we got from that in this short space of time, was the best option to do. I think in other things like this, I think it's something we would consider rather than spending that time physically going to a community because I think we opened it up to a broader range of people, again, as well. Whereas we would go to a community centre or somewhere that we're used to working in, and get the same people. Whereas, well, I'm hoping that we hit a different mix of people, again because we did it through a virtual experience rather than going out and seeing people.
I think people are more open as well while they're not speaking to somebody, so ordering those initial questions about what their barriers are, challenges are, whatever it might be, what they wanted to think about or what their motivators would be, I think you're not influenced by anybody because you're just sat at home doing it yourself. Whereas if there are a few people there and you're doing it as a focus group, that starts influencing people's answers. So, don't know. I think it's something else to think about in our new way of working.
Rhian Gladman: I was just thinking there my thought really was, is it that when you're gathering the insights at the start to understand the barriers to the behaviour you want to change, that's when you go into that really targeted focus group. Trying to get all those voices, understand all the barriers in the community in that way, but then actually if it's an intervention like this, like a questionnaire, then you can go out bigger through the social media comms. Is that the approach you took?
Maddy Arden: Yes. It is. I think, yes, it was partly practical. I mean, I think they are different. The participants we got, rather, for the study, you know, we got a lot. So, we had over 4,000 people clicked on the survey link and, of those, about 3,700 completed the survey and, you know, a few dropped out along the way. But we got, you know, really quite impressive numbers in a pretty short space of time. I'm not going to say that they're representative of everybody in Yorkshire and Humber because they're not. They're more educated. They've probably got higher employment levels. There's a certain type of person who will have seen this message, and I think we have to acknowledge that. That it's not necessarily representative of everybody, but we did get a really, kind of, good sample from across-, it's variable by local authority, but we had a good number of people from across all of the local authorities areas.
Just one thing to say about the social media adverts. It was really important that we, sort of, focused that on recruiting car users, rather than focusing it on 'we're doing a study on active travel'. I know some of the local authorities had a bit of, sort of, cross communication with their comms teams around that because they knew it as an active travel trial. But actually, if we'd put something out that was around active travel, we'd get the people who were already interested in doing active travel. And we didn't want that. We wanted the people who were using their cars. I know that caused a little bit of concern for some of the local authorities because it looked like we were-, the wording had to be careful so that it didn't look like, rather, we were promoting car use because we absolutely weren't. But we just wanted to get those people that were the relevant people for this study. So, there are pros and cons of this. But to be honest, any way that you run a trial, depending on how you recruit people, you recruit a certain type of person. We know from, you know, even the gold standard clinical trials, they're not recruiting everybody in the proportions they are in the population. So, I think it's just being aware of that and taking that into account when you're thinking about what this means, I guess.
Caroline Temperton: And I think that probably is partly why we kept it as broad, Maddy. We didn't want to focus in on a particular, we didn't focus in on areas of deprivation or certain populations because that would have made it really difficult to get that feedback. And what we thought was, actually, quite often the people that are using cars, and have a number of cars at their household, are not necessarily the people within certain sets of communities. So, we did want to focus on people that were car users and relied on cars a lot. That's one of the reasons we kept it quite broad because that was quite a big discussion when we first started deciding if we're going to have a target population or just keep it open to adults, really.
Rhian Gladman: I think it's that key point, again, around focusing on who's behaviour it is you want to change.
Caroline Temperton: Yes.
Rhian Gladman: And it was clearly car users here, and that influenced the messaging, didn't it? And it's keeping that outcome. Again, we talked at the start, about that outcome in mind all the way through, but again, yes, really important points to pick up on. So, what were the results?
Maddy Arden: So, yes. So, overall, when we looked at everybody. Just to say. In terms of the number of people that came back, it was around half the people that did the first part of the survey came back and did the second, and that's, sort of, what we expected. So, we had, sort of, around 560, 550 in each of the conditions at the end of the survey, so really good numbers. So, what we found was the control condition, they didn't change. Just to say, the percentage of journeys travelled actively was our, sort of, outcome measure. So, we measured, you know, all the journeys they'd done in the past week, and then which of those were car, which of those were walking, cycling. We calculated the percentage of journeys travelled actively. So, the control condition didn't change between baseline and follow-up as a result of the intervention. The motivation condition on itself, that significantly increased their percentage of active travel journeys. So, it was around a, sort of, 6% increase from baseline to follow-up. And when we looked at the planning condition, that was a little bit higher. So, that was more like an 8% increase in that condition. So, having some effects, but then we went on to look at something else which I think was really, really interesting. Obviously, people filled in the questionnaire and they, kind of, did these tasks as part of the intervention, or they were randomised to a condition where we asked them to do these tasks.
Not everybody did what we asked because people are people and that's what (TC 00:50:00) happens. So, we went and looked at just the proportion of people who had done what we asked them to do in terms of the intervention. So, for the motivation, these were the people that had done the ranking task. And for people in the motivation and goal setting, they'd done the ranking task and they'd also set this goal. So, we went and looked at just those people and, you know, those are the people, from a theoretical point of view, that we would expect it would work for. Because if you'd, sort of, missed it out and not done it properly, it's likely to have less of an effect. And then when you look at those people, the motivation condition, it's about the same. They increase, but about the same. But the people who did the planning, we're then looking at about a 13% increase in their active travel at follow-up. So, where we could persuade people, if you like, and there are a couple of different reasons why they might not have actually done that, it had a much bigger effect. But less people did it. So, only around the half of the people actually followed those instructions properly and did that.
So, it's quite an ask, I guess, getting people to commit to swapping a car journey. And it may be because they've already swapped all the car journeys that are feasible, so they couldn't have swapped one. Or, it may be that we just hadn't persuaded them within a course of, you know, an online questionnaire. It's not, sort of, having a conversation and persuading them, we're doing it in an online, by a far method. But, yes, so there were 221 out of the 548 who actually stuck to those instructions, so quite a large proportion of them did, and when they did, it had a really, really significant effect on their active travel. So, I think that tells us something about, you know, the value of this, but also it's not just about the intervention, it's about the extent to which people engage with an intervention, which is really, really important.
Rhian Gladman: And that's fascinating, isn't it? That could inform council communications and how rather than saying to people, 'Be more active in your travel,' it's actually understanding what the barrier is. It's this planning for whether planning for being late-, that's the message, isn't it? To encourage people to have a plan for when they're going to travel actively, and that's what ensures that it happens, isn't it? That's a completely different message, isn't it, Caroline, for the council? That's a completely different way of looking at it, I guess.
Caroline Temperton: Yes. That's what I'm thinking about, what we take back to our individual local authorities, is in the way that, you know, we can pay for people to have bike lessons, but that doesn't mean they're going to convert to active travel. So, it's what we do on top of that that will encourage people to do that, and that's some of the learning that we've got to try and apply now in our local authorities. You know, we talk about behaviour change all the time and various models, and we've been using COM-B in Doncaster for some time. We've got to get Doncaster moving project in Doncaster. So, we're quite keen-, well, everywhere is quite keen on improving physical activity, but building it into daily lives. And I think it's a massive task, but it's starting in small steps I think. You know, we know that, when broken down, about 200 and odd people committed to doing that change, but that is still a fair number of people and it is going to be in small steps that we can get people to do that. But once we get a movement going, then more people will join in that, and that's what we've got to try and do.
So, it's going to be baby steps almost, and small groups of people, but hopefully that'll filter out alongside all the stuff we're doing, like I said earlier, about the infrastructure improvements for people. But I think one of things that came out strongly for us, and particularly from the focus group that I was involved in, was that people didn't understand what, or didn't know about what services were on offer if they weren't confident to ride a bike, or they weren't sure the safe walking route. So, there's something about how we communicate that in a different way to our communities, so they've got that knowledge and understanding. So, there's loads of stuff coming out of it it that is to work on. Probably gone off track there a bit, Rhianne, with the question.
Rhian Gladman: #No, that's spot on, isn't it? There's so much. It's not just, like you say, providing the service. Obviously part of it is the infrastructure. There are huge things around opportunity, and do you feel safe, and is the lighting right. And that is a huge role, isn't it, for public sector to play around the infrastructure. We can't deny that. But I think that point for me around the planning, and again it's not just for active travel, I'm thinking for physical activity. It's that encouraging people to 'make a plan to do X' is a very different message, isn't it, to 'can you do X please, everyone? It's a good thing to do'. I think that's vital, yes.
Caroline Temperton: Especially for this project, we just said, 'Change one journey, one short journey.' We weren't asking people to, you know, do a three a day, or something ridiculous. It was very much starting from a baseline of nothing, I suppose, and just doing one thing to start that active travel movement off. So, I think that's something to think about. How we put messages out, almost, maybe could be interpreted as that we're expecting people to do something all the time. Well, that's not what we're expecting. We're expecting really small changes that fit in with people's lives and that they can manage and plan into their days. People have got very busy and complex lives, we understand that. So, we've got to really understand our communities and know what we can, sort of, expect from interventions. And that's not always, maybe, the amount that we'd like, but it's something.
Maddy Arden: I think that, you know, making the ask realistic is really important because as soon as an ask looks out of reach, then people just switch off. It's unachievable, why would I even be thinking about it? So, I think that's really important. And the planning thing, I mean there's lot of, sort of, evidence of the value of planning because there's something called the intention behaviour gap, which is just, you know, people intend to do the right thing, but actually translating that into actually doing is, is a challenge. And this, kind of, planning thing just helps people convert those good intentions into what they actually end up doing. You know, there's lots of research in lots of different behaviours that this is really, really important. If you ask people, that's not necessarily the thing that, kind of, comes to mind that's going to help. It's not, sort of, something that people think about doing because people think that they're going to act according to their intentions, but we're more complicated than that, aren't we?
Rhian Gladman: We're human.
Caroline Temperton: Yes. When you're doing something that's routine, you've subconsciously planned what you're going to do. So, you're going to get in your car, you're going to drive there, and it's just changing that thought process. So, there's planning taking place already, but this is a bit more outward, I suppose, that you've got to come out of yourself, and think of a different plan to get you from A to B, and back again. So, it's taking that norm and just changing it slightly.
Maddy Arden: And that's the way to develop good habits.
Caroline Temperton: Yes.
Maddy Arden: So, we've got habits already for using our cars for journeys that we really shouldn't be using our cars for. And getting people to make this, kind of, swap where they go, 'Okay, that's the thing, but I'm going to do it differently.' You know, that's the way to translate those old bad habits into good new habits. And that's the way that we can, kind of, promote that change in the longer term. Obviously, this trial was quite short, but the methods that we're using here around making those plans and repeating them over time. So, you know, when you want to go to the post office, instead of getting in the car, you walk instead. Then over the longer term, that can become a good habit that then people are able to stick to relatively easily.
Rhian Gladman: I think that point that it's one journey. So, let's try this once. This feels difficult, there are a lot of barriers. I'm not sure about this, but I've tried it once. That was okay. That was good. Then it encourages it again, and again, and again. I think that's the key to take that first small step, isn't it? Really interesting. So much coming out of this trial. So, last question from me. We always ask people at the end of the podcast. What are your top three learning points, or top three tips, for other councils, busy council officers, busy councillors, who are listening in, who would like to replicate your trial, the active travel trial, in their local area? What are those top three tips you'd like to leave our listeners with today?
Caroline Temperton: I think, for me, and I've mentioned them already throughout the conversation, but it's that collaboration. So, whether you're collaborating as a group of local authorities, but you've got to have that collaboration internally as well and get those people on board from day one, and explain what you're planning on doing. And it's a bit difficult in the beginning because you're not quite sure what it's going to turn out. Well, for us, you're going so long as a collaborative, to just get to that point where, right, this is what we're doing, but you've got to prewarn people that you're going to need support from. So, do some of that groundwork first and think about who you might need to get involved. And that might be contacting people (TC 01:00:00) that have been part of the behavioural insights programme already, and asking how they approached that and what teams did they need involved? Who did they work with? So, I think there's that element.
I think it's that understanding of what you want to achieve, and getting that right. So, it's the who, what, where, when, why, how scenario, and really taking your time to think that that is right. That is the right thing you want to do. Considering all the things we've talked about on the podcast alongside that. And then, for me, it's having that external or impartial facilitator, which Maddy's team acted on. They did a lot more than that, but that, on our workshops, really helped because they could just get us to deep dive into things, and think about it differently and ask those probing questions which, sometimes, get missed. And I think because Maddy's team have got that behavioural sciences knowledge then that, sort of, helped as well because they understood what we were trying to achieve, and where we're coming from. Also, got an understanding of how local authorities work. Perhaps in that, is making sure that your partner organisation is somebody that has that understanding and can do those things for you. I think I've said three there, is that right?
Rhian Gladman: You have, Caroline. Yes. Spot on. Maddy?
Caroline Temperton: Loads of top tips.
Maddy Arden: I'm just going to acknowledge my colleague Rachel Thorne.
Caroline Temperton: Yes. Sorry I've not said Rachel's name.
Maddy Arden: Yes. Who did loads of the work on this and has been absolutely fantastic. So, thanks to Rachel. My top three I think are make sure you do the insight work properly. I think there's a lot of jumping to, 'Well, we know this and we know this.' And actually, do you really know that, or you've just heard it a lot of times? So, I think do the insight work properly. That's really, really important. And then match your interventions to the things that are coming out of your insight work. I think there's an inclination to go, to jump to the intervention with what you can do before you understand what the actual issues are for the insight work. So, insight work first. Match your interventions so that they're going to address the actual things. You can't address everything. We talked about the APEASE criteria, being sensible about it, but matching them. And finally, I think not forgetting engagement with the intervention. So, that is, you know, we can have the best intervention in the world, but if we can't get people to engage with it, it doesn't work. And that is really, really crucial, and I think that's not thought about enough when we think about interventions. Are people actually even going to look at it, or read it, or do what we're supposed to do? And if not, we almost need another intervention for that part, for how do we get people to engage with it in the first place.
Rhian Gladman: How do we make it easy?
Maddy Arden: Yes. Easy. It's partly easy though because it's easy to read a poster, but you don't necessarily process a poster. It's, kind of, that engagement at a level that is going to produce the outcomes that you want. So, yes, making it easy, making it attractive, you know, all of those kinds of really good messages from the EAST model. But you need engagement at the right level as well as, sort of, noticing it. And that's not necessarily the same thing.
Rhian Gladman: That's fantastic, ladies, thank you so much for your time today on the podcast. And thank you for sharing the story and the learning and everything from such an important and interesting project that I know councils, across the country, will be listening into and really interested in replicating in their own areas. So, the final report from Yorkshire and Humber is being published on our website at www.local.gov.uk. If you search for behavioural insights on the LGO's website, you will find that there. We're also really interested to hear from you listening. So, are there any particular speakers or any particular topics you would like us to feature on the podcast? Please do get in touch and drop us an email at [email protected]
Thank you for listening. Please do share the podcast with your colleagues, and we will be out with another episode very soon.