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Healthy living pharmacy – proven concept or monumental waste of time?

  • by
Peter Kelly


ONE of the new requirements for healthy living pharmacy (HLP) accreditation is to carry out public health promotion events. Is there any evidence that these have any effect?

For the last few years I have being going into colleges giving healthy living advice and running healthy living workshops. While these have been a lot of fun and the feedback we got was very positive and encouraging, I always had a niggling feeling that they were ineffective.

I recently spoke to a gentleman working for the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) who work in partnership with the Cabinet Office. The gentleman confirmed my suspicions, when it comes to healthy living outcomes, educational interventions have little or no impact. Environmental interventions have much more impact.

An example of an environmental interventions is stocking a fridge in a school canteen with 80% water. This will lead to more water consumption and less consumption of sugary drinks. The goal with environmental intervention is to make healthy choices assessable and to make them seem like the norm.

If educational interventions have been showed to have no impact, why should we carry them out? This is a very good question.

My contact with the BIT believes that in time, when educationally interventions are ubiquitous, they will hit a tipping point and will make an impact. The example he used was this, if you go to one computer coding class every year for 10 years you will not learn anything, but if you go to a computer coding class five times a week for 10 years you will learn a lot.

When it comes to healthy living education, we need to keep the message simple and deliver it over and over again. Don’t get dishearten if you feel it is having no impact, our accumulative efforts over time will work.

Peter Kelly is a community pharmacist based in London

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