Using social norms theory for health promotion in low-income countries

Beniamino Cislaghi, Lori Heise

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Social norms can greatly influence people's health-related choices and behaviours. In the last few years, scholars and practitioners working in low- and mid-income countries (LMIC) have increasingly been trying to harness the influence of social norms to improve people's health globally. However, the literature informing social norm interventions in LMIC lacks a framework to understand how norms interact with other factors that sustain harmful practices and behaviours. This gap has led to short-sighted interventions that target social norms exclusively without a wider awareness of how other institutional, material, individual and social factors affect the harmful practice. Emphasizing norms to the exclusion of other factors might ultimately discredit norms-based strategies, not because they are flawed but because they alone are not sufficient to shift behaviour. In this paper, we share a framework (already adopted by some practitioners) that locates norm-based strategies within the wider array of factors that must be considered when designing prevention programmes in LMIC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberday017
Pages (from-to)616-623
Number of pages8
JournalHealth promotion international
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • community health promotion
  • harmful practices
  • intervention
  • low-income countries
  • social norms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Using social norms theory for health promotion in low-income countries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this