Applying the Social Identity Approach to Public Health. A Case Example of Theory in Practice

ANDREW LEVY, ADRIAN MIDGLEY, Sam Pilsworth, Adrian Mcgonigle, Lyndsey Wigelsworth, Linda Jones, Dennis Wat, Nicola Pott, Max Bettany, Bashir Matata

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Public health interventions play a major role in protecting, enhancing and maintaining the health of a population. At present, there is a plethora of public health interventions that promote a range of health behaviours for improving the lives of people suffering from chronic disease. Psychological theories can help us to understand the mechanisms that underpin health promotion interventions. However, the application and operationalisation of theory is not always transparent when utilised in public health systems for improving chronic health outcomes. Through the lens of social identity theory, the current article aims to provide a commentary on the content and practical delivery of a health intervention used within a public health service in the UK. Specifically, we present a case example detailing the application of social identity theory within a community pulmonary rehabilitation service to improve the quality of life for patients diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Furthermore, we provide some balanced reflections on the utility of the social identity approach to inform a public health intervention. Our article provides practical applications and recommendations for using a novel theoretical approach in a public health setting to help bridge the theory to practice nexus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-601
JournalThe European Health Psychologist
Issue number1
Early online date14 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2019


  • Group Membership
  • Exercise
  • Rehabilitation
  • Health


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