Enhancing the Social Ecological Framework: a Social Marketing Solution

Alan Shaw

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Purpose – Social marketing has been criticised for mainly focusing on the individual and not the wider environmental impacts. Collins, Tapp and Pressley (2010) began the process of tackling this issue by introducing the Social Ecological Framework (SEF). The SEF is based on Bronfenbrenner’s (1977) Ecological Theory, but it utilises his first iteration. This thesis has enhanced the framework by incorporating Bronfenbrenner’s (2005) Person-Process-Context-Time Model.

Design/methodology/approach – The study utilises a mixed methods approach with a single case study: examining why individuals living with diabetes chose to attend (or not) a structured education course in England. It examines the attitudes of the patients, healthcare professionals and administrators of the NHS.

Findings – The research identified that there was a large disparity in the types of services provided by the various PCTs. Many patients were unaware of the courses and that they should have been offered a place: the key driver, which dictated the types of services provided by the NHS was money. The patient’s decision to attend or not was influenced by a variety of factors that were correlated to wider environmental issues, or more specifically Bronfenbrenner’s PPCT model.

Research implications/limitations – Utilising Bronfenbrenner’s PPCT model within the SEF has positive implications to the process. Researchers and practitioners will now have a new way of addressing social marketing issues. The study’s scope was limited to a ‘health’ social marketing review, further research will be required to confirm it relevance across the wider social marketing domain.

Practical implications – Diabetes is a growing chronic condition that accounts for approximately 11% many nation health service providers’ budgets. Diabetes structured education is proven to empower patients and reduce costs but many of these patients are failing to engage with the process. The enhanced SEF that this research is providing may solve the issue.

Originality/value – The study provides an example of social marketers having to deal with multiple complex behaviour changes. It also addresses a concern that is continually raised by the social marketing fraternity: researchers tend to focus on the individual.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Hull
Award date16 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


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