Peter Coventry is Professor of Environment and Health in the Department of Health Sciences, University of York and Director of the Mental Health and Addiction Research Group.
Peter has an interdisciplinary background. He has an undergraduate degree in sociology, a masters degree in social anthropology of science, technology, and medicine, and a PhD in history and medical sociology. He held a MRC Special Training Fellowship in Health Services Research and Population Health, during which time he completed postgraduate training in health services research.
Peter is an applied health methodologist with expertise in evidence synthesis, qualitative process evaluations, and evaluations of complex interventions, especially in public and community health settings. His interdisciplinary work focuses on the intersection between the built and natural environment and human health, especially mental health.
He has twice won the RCGP Research Paper of the Year for Mental Health (2011; 2015) for his work in primary care mental health. His work on evaluating nature-based interventions for health and wellbeing has attracted media attention in the Times and his research on climate change, flooding, and mental health has featured in the Guardian.
- BSc (Hons) Sociology, University of Leicester, 1994
- MA (Econ) Social Anthropology of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester, 1996
- PhD Sociology and History of Medicine, University of Manchester, 2001
- MSc (Distinction) Health Services Research, University of Sheffield, 2006
- Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy, 2022
- Graduate Chair – PhD programme lead
- Chair Research Degrees Committee
Pete's research adopts an ecological public health perspective, using a range of applied methodologies [systematic reviews; epidemiological and data science; user-centred co-design; qualitative approaches; trials) to design and evaluate complex interventions for populations exposed to health inequalities.
He leads the Natural Environments and Mental Health theme at MHARG which seeks to:
- Improve understanding of the links between ecosystems and human health and wellbeing
- Design and evaluate nature-based solutions to improve the health of people with mental health problems and multiple long-term conditions.
- Connected Treescapes: a three-year NERC funded multi-centre programme to understand the social, health, and cultural benefits of trees and woodlands across the UK's towns and cities. This project will provide important new knowledge and understanding on how current decisions regarding treescapes today can secure and enhance a wide range of benefits from trees and woodlands for current and future generations
- DIAMONDS (Diabetes and Mental Illness, Improving Outcomes and Self-management): a five-year NIHR programme grant to develop tailored self-management interventions for people with serious mental illness and diabetes. Knowledge translation work will also ensure the interventions will be generalizable to populations with other long term conditions, such as COPD. Pete is leading the feasibility trial that will test the intervention before definitive evaluation in a large randomised controlled trial. Updates and news on Twitter: @diamonds_nihr
- SCEPTRE (Promoting Smoking CEssation and PrevenTing Relapse): a six-year programme funded by the NIHR focusing on developing strategies to support people with serious mental illness to become or stay smokefree after discharge from a mental health in-patient stay. Pete will be leading the process evaluation that is part of a definitive trial of candidate behaviour change techniques
- YH-ARC (Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaboration): as part of the mental and physical multimorbidity theme Pete leads a programme of work on using greenspace as a community based asset to improve mental and physical health, especially in older adults. This theme will use a combination of big data analytics and pilot testing of interventions to promote the use of green space to enhance physical and mental health. Follow @NIHR_ARC_YH for news and updates
- BASIL (Behavioural Activation in Social IsoLation): following the Covid-19 pandemic, older adults and those with long term physical health conditions were instructed by the UK government to follow social distancing/isolation guidelines (to include strict isolation for the most vulnerable in this group) to protect their own and other’s health. This enforced isolation will lead to a disruption of daily routine, loss of social contact and loneliness; and this in turn may further increase the risk of depression and anxiety in this group. The BASIL trial is a NIHR urgent public health study that will test whether an adapted version of behavioural activation – a talking therapy – can support older adults with are now socially isolated.
- MODS (Multimorbidity in Older Adults): is a NIHR programme to develop, refine and test an intervention (behavioural activation) designed to help support older adults (65+ years) who have two or more long term physical health conditions (such as diabetes, asthma, heart problems) and depression or low mood. Pete will be leading the process evaluation in the main trial. Updates and news on Twitter: @MODS_Research
- The HEALTH study: This project funded by NIHR HS & DR systematically reviewed the evidence for effectiveness of multiple behaviour change interventions for modifying lifestyle factors (e.g. smoking, diet) known to be associated with poor physical health and premature mortality in people with serious mental illness. Updates and news on Twitter: @UoY_HEALTH_SMI
- INCiTE (Interventions for Complex Traumatic Events): Funded by NIHR Health Technology and Assessment programme this project systematically reviewed the effectiveness and acceptability of psychological and pharmacological interventions for people with a history of complex traumatic events. The project paper was published in PLoS Medicine
- Closing the Gap Network+: Funded by the ESRC, this mental health network grew capacity to deliver impactful research to address health deficits and inequalities among people with severe mental illness and long-term physical conditions. Peter co-led (with Prof Piran White) the Green and Blue Space research with a focus on understanding the association of natural environments and prevalence of serious mental illness
Recently completed PhD supervision:
- Mariya Geneshka (NIHR ARC Yorkshire and Humber): The associations between exposure to green and blue spaces with multimorbidity: observational analyses of UK Biobank cohort
Current PhD students:
- Jennifer Brown (supported by Mentally Fit York – York Unlimited): Acceptability and feasibility of continuous glucose monitoring in people with serious mental illness and type 2 diabetes
- Ragy Tadrous (ESRC White Rose): Developing an intervention to reduce sedentary behaviour in community dwelling older adults
- Wajeeha Raza (NIHR ARC): Economic evaluation of modifications to urban green spaces
- Nikki Patterson (Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene and Biodiversity): Exploring the intersections of biodiversity, nature connection, and human health & wellbeing across the lifecourse
Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Peter’s work contributes to the following SDGs:
Contributing lecturer for:
Peter is able to supervise Masters projects with a broad focus on managing mental health problems. Specific areas of interest include social and environmental interventions (e.g. social prescribing; nature-based interventions), psychosocial interventions (e.g. behavioural interventions). Favoured approaches for Masters projects are systematic reviews (both quantitative and qualitative) or other forms of literature reviews such as scoping reviews.