Promoting health and protecting the environment

A systematic review of qualitative studies of behaviours with health and environmental benefits

Individual lifestyles are the major drivers of public health and environmental change – and environmental change is an increasing threat to public health. In consequence, behaviours which damage health and the environment have high economic costs, both for the NHS (including via its carbon footprint) and for the environment.

There is a large evidence base on the behavioural risks for chronic disease (poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, harmful drinking). There are also reviews of quantitative studies of health behaviours with environmental impacts, including key dual behaviours like active travel. However, evidence from qualitative studies has yet to be fed into the evidence base of policy. Yet it is qualitative studies that shed most light on people’s perceptions and experiences, including their attempts to make positive changes in behaviour.

This project will consist of two systematic reviews of qualitative research, one focused on travel behaviour and the other on diet-related behaviour. Qualitative studies of individual’s perceptions and experiences of these behaviours will be included, paying particular attention to the influence of social inequalities on the facilitators of and barriers to healthy and pro-environmental behaviours.

The project is linked to earlier Public Health Research Consortium (PHRC) reviews of qualitative studies of smoking (led by Prof Hilary Graham) and of quantitative and qualitative studies multiple risk behaviours (led by Prof Amanda Sowden). It adds a new layer to this work through a focus on health-related environmental behaviours, and builds on the ESRC-funded HOPE project (Health Of Populations and Ecosystems – led by Professors Hilary Graham and Piran White). The team has extensive experience of undertaking scoping and systematic reviews, including reviews of qualitative studies.

Funding

Funder(s): Public Health Research Consortium (PHRC; Department of Health funded) 
Start Date: April 2016
End Date: September 2017

Public Health and Society Research in the Department of Health Sciences