This report brings together recent evidence on ways to influence physical activity behaviours in individuals and populations | National Institute for Health Research
Being active matters because it is an important way of staying healthy. We know that people can reduce their risk of many serious diseases by staying physically active. Activity is also important for mental well-being and keeping socially connected. Finding enjoyable ways to be active can benefit people in so many ways. But it is often hard for people to start and keep the habit of regular activity. Around a quarter of people are inactive and less than two thirds meet recommended activity levels. We need to know more about what works in getting people active and sustaining this, particularly for those who are least active now.
This review focuses on National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-funded research evaluating interventions to increase physical activity for individuals and populations. This features over 50 published and ongoing studies. Evaluations range from programmes in schools and communities to changes in transport and the environment, which are designed to promote greater activity.
Royal Society of Public Health | June 2019 | RSPH calls for clean-up of public attitudes to hygiene
RSPH conducted a national survey which looked at the general public’s understanding and practice of hygiene, the survey shows that while the broad value of hygiene is understood, there are key misconceptions and gaps in understanding that could be increasing the risk of spread of infections.
The survey’s findings have been published in a new report Too clean or not too clean?, there is much public confusion about the relationship between dirt, germs, cleanliness and hygiene. Moreover, although the importance of hygiene is well understood, the times and situations where it is most necessary are not.
Almost a quarter of those surveyed believed hygiene in the home was not important
There is substantial public confusion about the relationship between cleanliness and hygiene: three in five (61%) believe dirty hands from outdoor play are likely to spread harmful germs, despite there being little evidence that outdoor dirt carries harmful microbes.
Over one third of the public (36%) believe dirt is usually or always harmful.
Although many people can identify lifestyle factors responsible for preventing children from coming into contact with bacteria that are good for their health – such as using too many antibiotics (59%) and spending too much time indoors (56%) – almost as many believe incorrectly that keeping one’s home ‘too clean’ also has this effect (55%).
Men are more than twice as likely as women to think there’s low or no risk associated with not washing hands with soap after using the toilet (16% vs 7%), or after handling raw meat (8% vs 4%).
The public generally agree that good hygiene is important, including for its role in reducing pressure on the NHS (73%) and in tackling antibiotic resistance (50%).
The eight most crucial times to practise hygiene are:
During food handling.
Whilst eating with fingers.
Using the toilet.
Coughing, sneezing and nose blowing.
Handling and laundering ‘dirty’ clothing and household linens
Caring for domestic animals.
Handling and disposing of refuse.
Caring for an infected family member. (Source: RSPH)
Royal Society for Public Health | June 2019 | Skins and Needles
Skins and Needles is a new report from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), it investigates the infection control procedures for ‘special procedures’ such as tattoos, electrolysis and piercings. The report also highlights the need for additional procedures such as dermal fillers to be added into legislation.
The report is based on a national survey of 886 people who had at least one ‘special procedure’ in the last five years. All of the respondents had experienced at least one special
procedure (tattooing, semi-permanent skin
colouring, cosmetic piercing, acupuncture
and electrolysis) in the previous five years.
Of those who had a negative side effect, one in ten required medical treatment.
Their research also found that:
Anyone can purchase specialist equipment online to carry out tattooing or piercings without the necessary training or qualifications in how to use them
Two fifths of people who had a special procedure did not check whether the person carrying it out was registered or licenced to carry it out
The most important factor that influenced where they had their special procedure was the skill of the technician, followed by the cleanliness of the premises and recommendations by previous clients (Source: RSPH)
Two leading health charities say that the government must make a clear and urgent commitment to restoring £1 billion of real-terms per head cuts to the public health grant which enables local authorities to deliver vital preventive services that protect and improve health.
The Health Foundation and The King’s Fund say that government cannot continue to put off decisions on public health funding and must signal its intention to restoring cuts and ensuring there are no further reductions in funding.
The two organisations say that cuts to the public health grant made since 2015/16 are having a major impact on local services – such as sexual health clinics, stop smoking support and children’s health visitors – which play a key role in improving and maintaining the population’s health. They also argue that cuts to the grant undermine the ability of Directors of Public Health to influence wider public services that affect people’s health – including housing and transport. They say that failing to act now would be a false economy, placing further pressure on the NHS and wider public services.
Analysis by the Health Foundation shows that the grant, which currently amounts to £3.1 billion a year, is now £850 million lower in real terms than initial allocations in 2015/16.
Review recommends that councils and the NHS work more closely to co-commission public health services, including health visiting and school nursing | Department of Health and Social Care
The review, conducted by the Department of Health and Social Care, recommends that the NHS work much more closely with local authorities on public health so that commissioning is more joined-up and prevention is embedded into a wider range of health services.
As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, the government committed to reviewing commissioning arrangements for some local authority-commissioned public health services.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that the departmental review found that local authorities take an active and efficient approach to commissioning services. He also praised local councils for their work in commissioning public health services and confirmed they will continue to lead on this important work.
He acknowledged that many local authorities have taken steps to improve and modernise the services they commission, including through digital delivery, such as online STI testing.
Institute for Public Policy Research | June 2019 | Ending the blame game: The case for a new approach to public health and prevention
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) argues there needs to be a paradigm shift in the government’s prevention green paper in policy from interventions that ‘blame and punish’ to those that ‘empathise and assist’ (Source: IPPR).
This article from the Health Foundation discusses how changing the conversation will help to build public understanding of how social determinants affect health.
The Health Foundation is currently working with the FrameWorks Institute to develop a deeper appreciation of the ways in which people understand and think about health, to develop more effective approaches to communicating evidence.
A recent Health Foundation briefing explored how people think about what makes them healthy. It identifies four main communication challenges that can act as barriers to wider public acceptance of the evidence on the social determinants of health, including:
broadening what is understood by the term health
increasing understanding of the role of the social determinants of health
increasing understanding of how social and economic inequalities drive health inequalities
generating an understanding of the policy action needed to keep people healthy.
The next stage of their work with the FrameWorks Institute will be to develop and test strategies to address these challenges.
In the meantime, the Health Foundation offers some general guidance to bear in mind when communicating to the public around prevention and health issues including:
Beware of gesturing towards the importance of individual choice or responsibility.
Avoid ‘crisis messaging’ as this can backfire by reinforcing people’s sense of fatalism and encouraging disengagement.
Use step-by-step, causal explanations of how social determinants affect health, and provide concrete examples to help deepen the public’s understanding.