The AHRC, MRC and NERC are looking to fund research to establish how cultural, natural and other community assets can mitigate health inequalities.
Specifically, research should focus on how prevention and intervention strategies can be scaled up from small, locally based approaches benefitting small numbers of individuals, to whole communities. Projects will therefore support the national roll out of place-based approaches to public health as an established part of health policy.
Recent changes to the context of the health ecosystem show major progress in understanding the relationship between cultural, community and natural assets and health and wellbeing. These provide both an opportunity and a challenge. Your application should include details about how the project would exploit these opportunities whilst addressing any challenges.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry report, ‘Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing’, argued that arts engagement helps to mitigate the effects of an adverse environment by:
- influencing maternal nutrition, perinatal mental health and childhood development
- shaping educational and employment opportunities and tackling chronic distress
- enabling self-expression and empowerment and overcoming social isolation.
Research demonstrating the impact of arts and culture, nature and other forms of community assets in addressing health inequalities is clear as to the benefits of this approach.
However, as this evidence base exists, we are not looking to fund research around the efficacy of place-based approaches to health, but rather their scalability.
The inclusion of social prescribing within the NHS Universal Personalised Care plan provides a route to tackling health inequalities in the UK. We are seeking proposals that grow the evidence base for health systems change.
Proposals can focus on the systematic integration of place-based prevention and intervention approaches, and how they can be grown and scaled-up to become part of the health architecture.
Proposals should include:
- the ways that organisations can adapt their offer to allow spread and generalisability
- how sustainable partnerships can be set up
- how new partnerships can fit into the existing health ecosystem.
Projects will be pilot studies to explore innovative research directions to initiate an evidence base for further research.
The 2021 Integrated Care Services white paper promotes a general public health approach and promises a legal obligation on local NHS services to collaborate with local government and other local institutions. This presents an immediate opportunity to make equitable access to quality cultural and natural assets a standard part of public health provision nationally.
We are seeking proposals that explore how local, cultural and natural infrastructure ecosystems, and partnerships between them and local government and local NHS institutions, can best be reshaped to place cultural and natural assets at the service of public health.
Proposals must explain how approaches can be scaled up to benefit whole communities and support national policy. This research can include methodology as to how to ensure effective communication and connection between providers and commissioners of health, social care and community-based organisations managing these assets.
We are looking to fund projects that contribute to the evidence base and support community building in the interests of scale-up.
Projects are expected to:
- facilitate networking, partnership building, stakeholder engagement, and capacity building focused within local communities. This could include time for building collaboration between new partners, allowing for the development of connections with non-academic partners, including:
- NHS trusts
- local authorities
- local arts and nature organisations
- the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector
- involve a range of arts and humanities disciplines, including but not limited to:
- fine art
- cultural studies
- health and medical humanities
- advanced studies
- museum studies
- engage with other academic disciplines including, but not limited to:
- population health sciences (epidemiology, biostatistics, health psychology, medical sociology)
- nursing and other allied science
- environmental science
- social sciences (including demography and geography)
- pilot research methodologies and interventions within communities, building the groundwork for potential future investments in this area.
Researchers and practitioners working within areas of social deprivation, which feature low on socioeconomic indices are strongly encouraged to apply.
A strong place-based focus is required. However, you may draw on input and expertise from other areas in designing your project and assembling your team.
Projects must provide a clear articulation of the public health outcomes expected from the prevention and intervention approaches to be co-produced and explain whether implementation is foreseen at a local or national level.
These research challenges cannot be addressed from a single disciplinary perspective. Multi-disciplinary and indeed multi-professional approaches are required, which will involve input from diverse stakeholders including:
- cultural providers
- service users
- local authority services
- NHS trusts and community partners, including managers of cultural, natural and community assets whether or not these are local authority-funded.
It is expected that research would be co-produced with these stakeholders to ensure that outcomes:
- are translatable into the real world
- can address the practical challenges faced by those seeking to mobilize cultural, natural and community assets to address health inequalities.
Applicants are encouraged to think creatively about their research methodologies, and consider incorporating diverse mixed methodologies, concepts and approaches, alongside traditional arts and humanities’ ones, such as:
- systems analysis
- process evaluation
- action research
- realist evaluation
- quality and healthcare improvement
- delphi technique
- social network analysis
- ecological public health
- geospatial analysis.
The projects should plan to meet the following aims:
- establish new interdisciplinary research collaborations, within and beyond academia
- bring together the academic community with key stakeholders in the culture, nature and public health landscape, including charities, health trusts, local councils
- explore innovative research directions to initiate an evidence base for further research, addressing the need to:
- address how local cultural and natural infrastructure ecosystems, and partnerships between them and local government and local NHS institutions, can best be reshaped to place cultural and natural assets at the service of public health
- plan how strategies can be scaled-up to ensure place-based approaches to health are rolled out as part of the national health policy.
Projects must start by 31 January 2022.