Public Health Campaigns

SEPTEMBER 20, 2021

Public health campaigns aim to promote health and wellbeing by providing education and advice on how individuals can improve their own health. 

To support you to discuss public health campaigns, should the topic arise within your medical school interview, you should be aware of the following:

  • Who is responsible for promoting public health in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (see below)
  • The priorities within each public health organisation and what this tells you about the wider priorities in the NHS
  • Public health campaigns across the UK

To support you to do this, the following are a starting point for researching public health campaigns across the devolved nations:




  • Responsible: Public Health Scotland
  • Their priorities: Public Health Scotland outlines six priorities, including to ‘reduce the use of and harm from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs’ and ‘eat well, have a healthy weight and are physically active’. You can find the six priorities and how Public Health Scotland is tackling them here
  • Campaigns: The ‘health topics’ section of the Public Health Scotland website provides information and resources on key health topics in Scotland. In addition, Public Health Scotland’s Strategic Plan 2020-23 provides information on the aims to ‘tackle Scotland’s public health challenges’.

Northern Ireland

  • Responsible: Public Health Agency
  • Their aims: To ‘protect and improve the health and social wellbeing of our population and reduce health inequalities’. You can also find information about ‘policies and actions to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Northern Ireland’ in the Making Life Better 2012-2023 public health strategic framework. 
  • Campaigns: You can find links to individual Public Health Agency websites, aimed at different public health issues, here. The Department of Health also provides additional information and resources in relation to public health promotion.

Ethical considerations & wider issues

To develop your understanding beyond a simple awareness of public health campaigns, you may want to consider the impact these campaigns have on health and wellbeing in the UK. 

Generally, the aim of public health campaigns is to educate the public on things such as: how lifestyle factors can increase the risk of particular diseases and how to live a more healthy lifestyle, in order to increase public awareness and promote individual health. Why? What is the benefit of achieving these aims? Is it easy to measure whether these are being achieved and the impact they have on public health? 

You may also want to consider whether there are any perceived drawbacks to public health campaigns or the issues that may arise. For example, the challenge of how information is relayed – is it clear, useful and do individuals respond to it? – and the associated cost with producing public health campaigns and how this relates to the impact that they have. 

Further research

By exploring the information and public health websites listed above, you’ll develop an understanding of how public health campaigns are used across the UK to promote health and wellbeing. Ensure that you look at examples of campaigns, so you’re aware of the priorities and types of areas covered, and are able to discuss these in detail. 

As always, drawing upon medical articles, to develop your understanding, particularly of the impact of public health campaigns, and to provide a critical element to your discussions, will demonstrate the depth of your interest and engagement with medical topics and support you in your interview. 

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