Boring family routines reduce non-communicable diseases : a commentary and call for action

Rotheram-Borus, Mary Jane ; Tomlinson, Mark ; Davis, Emily (2015-07)

CITATION:Rotheram-Borus, M. J., Tomlinson, M. & Davis, E. 2015. “Boring” family routines reduce non-communicable diseases: a commentary and call for action. Archives of Public Health, 73(1):27, doi:10.1186/s13690-015-0077-9.

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As global donors shift their efforts from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases (NCD), it is critical to capitalize on our prior mistakes and successes. Policy makers and public health administrators are often looking for magic bullets: drugs or treatments to eradicate disease. Yet, each potential magic bullet requires consistent, daily implementation and adherence to a new set of habits to actually work. Families’ and communities’ daily, interlocking routines will be the battlefield on which scientific and technological breakthroughs will be implemented and succeed or not. Currently, there are many evidence-based interventions (EBI) which have been demonstrated to shift specific habits which account for most NCD (eating, drinking, moving, and smoking). Yet, securing sustained uptake of these programs is rare – suggesting different intervention strategies are needed. Structural changes, policy nudges, and partnerships with private enterprise may be able to shift the health behaviors of more citizens faster and at a lower cost than existing EBI. Addressing concurrent risk and protective factors at the community level and intervening to shape new cultural routines may be useful to reduce NCD.

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