The future of public health research

The Academy of Medical Sciences, in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Faculty of Public Health, have released a report on "The future of public health research".

The report highlights the potential to develop ambitious goals for public health research to catalyse improvements in key UK health challenges.

It summarises discussions from a workshop held on 20-21 July 2017, which convened senior leaders from a broad range of disciplines and sectors relevant to public health. Attendees sought to identify challenges that could be addressed through public health measures and what the associated research needs are for these challenges.

“The workshop brought together delegates from across the wide range of disciplines and sectors to catalyse conversations between funders, policy makers and researchers," said Professor Dame Anne Johnson DBE FMedSci FFPH, co-chair of the workshop.

"The aim was to examine how UK public health research can better address major health concerns. The challenges highlighted in this resulting report emphasise the importance of setting a ‘Health of the Public’ research agenda that will reflect local level priorities and fast track translation to benefit the health and wellbeing of the UK population."

Six key future health challenges were prioritised as areas that should be addressed with ambitious goals for public health research:

  1. Improving public mental health
  2. Maintaining a productive workforce and a sustainable economy
  3. Reducing the burden of multimorbidities across the population
  4. Tackling health inequalities
  5. Addressing the obesity crisis
  6. Improving quality of life and health life expectancy

"This report is the latest development from the implementation of the Academy’s ‘Improving the health of the public 2040’ project," added Dame Anne.

"The project’s recommendations have had far reaching impacts, such as supporting the formation of the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP) and informing the NIHR ‘Future of Health’ 20 year forward view. Together these represent exciting and meaningful progress for health of the public research, needed to meet present and future health challenges."

The report provides a summary of the workshop discussions, as well as the associated research gaps and overarching themes. It also summarises discussions at a follow up meeting, where it was agreed that a system of embedding local-level needs into the public health research agenda was a particularly exciting opportunity for researchers, funders and policy makers to explore moving forward.

The full report is available for download on the right hand side of this page. 

For more information about our workstream, "Improving the health of the public by 2040", please visit the dedicated project page.

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