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About the Social and Behavioural Research Unit

We provide quality social and behavioural cancer research which makes a difference. We help build up and maintain the evidence base, evaluate health promotion programmes, and support postgraduate students in the field.

Our main areas are:

The SBRU team:

A group photo of the Cancer Society Social and Behavioural Research Unit

At the Social and Behavioural Research Unit (SBRU), we have received core funding from the Cancer Society of New Zealand and University of Otago since 1990. An important and unique aspect of our Unit and Cancer Society relationship is a process which ensures that our research is of continuing relevance to the Cancer Society's programmes and aspirations.

Our research priorities are based on criteria including:

  • Prioritisation by the National Health Promotion Committee of the Cancer Society of particular cancer prevention efforts that require research
  • Our ability to provide timely and high-quality research to inform the health promotion efforts of the Cancer Society and other agencies
  • Conducting research of an applied nature to inform health promotion practice
  • The possibilities of building research alliances

The Cancer Society's prioritisation criteria are based on:

  • The scale of a particular cancer problem—how many people develop or die from it
  • How well the causes of the particular cancer are known
  • Whether behavioural risk factors or factors in the social and physical environments are potentially modifiable
  • Whether there are evidence-based opportunities for prevention
  • Whether interventions have the potential to impact favourably on other chronic diseases, thus allowing for collaboration and strategic alliances with other research groups and health agencies

In New Zealand, the key areas for which the evidence to support cancer prevention interventions is most compelling are:

  • The promotion of physical activity and appropriate nutrition;
  • Ultraviolet radiation studies (sun protection, skin cancer prevention, and Vitamin D issues)
  • Tobacco control

Most SBRU activities and publications fit into one or other of these three categories, although some are of a more generic nature.

All SBRU cancer prevention and health promotion work is carried out within the frameworks of the Ottawa Charter, the Jakarta Declaration, and the Treaty of Waitangi.

Ottawa Charter
Jakarta Declaration
Treaty of Waitangi