The Academy has undertaken a project exploring how the UK’s research environment needs to adapt to meet the health challenges the population will face by 2040.Launched
Health of the public in 2040
Over the coming decades, the UK population will face a wide range of complex health challenges and opportunities, many of which can only be fully addressed through strategies to secure and improve the health of the public as a whole.
The Academy’s report, ‘Improving the health of the public by 2040’, explores how to organise our research environment to generate and translate the evidence needed to underpin such strategies. The Academy is now undertaking a variety of activities to implement the report’s recommendations.
The report concludes that while public health research has provided fundamental insights into human health, there remains much we do not know about the complex array of interlinking factors that influence the health of the public, and about how to prevent and solve the many health challenges we face as a population.
Solving these challenges will require shifting towards a ‘health of the public’ approach, involving disciplines that would not usually be considered to be within the public health field. This is turn requires six key developments:
- Rebalancing and enhancing the coordination of research.
- Harnessing new technologies and the digital revolution.
- Developing transdisciplinary research capacity.
- Aligning perspectives and approaches between clinical and public health practice.
- Working with all sectors of society, including policymakers, practitioners, the commercial sector and the public.
- Engaging globally.
This project was guided by a Working Group of a wide range of experts, chaired by Professor Dame Anne Johnson DBE FMedSci. A full list of Working Group members can be seen here, and project contributors is available here.
The project was kindly supported by Wellcome and the Medical Research Council.
1. To recommend to relevant decision-makers the requirements for supporting the health of the UK population in 2040 – in terms of research evidence, research capacity, research infrastructure and the mechanisms for translating research into practice. Specifically, the project will consider how to:
- Capitalise on the opportunities created by advances in all areas of science and technology.
- Bring together and ensure necessary research capacity across the full range of disciplines required to address future challenges.
- Ensure an appropriate interface between researchers, policymakers and practitioners.
2. In pursuit of this aim, to address the following questions in the context of the future health of the UK population:
- What are expected to be the main challenges by 2040, and what are the opportunities to address them?
- What are the research and research infrastructure requirements to address these challenges and realise these opportunities?
- How can we effectively train and link researchers and practitioners?
- How can we ensure that the development of public policy and practice is informed by evidence (including from evaluation)?
The final report is aimed at policymakers, funders, researchers (including trainees), professional and regulatory bodies, public health service providers, and the public.
-November 2014: Project launch and visioning workshop
The project was formally launched with a day-long workshop bringing together a diverse, interdisciplinary mix of stakeholders to explore aspirations for the nation’s health in 2040 and the drivers likely to influence the direction of this change. This workshop, summarised in the report ‘Aspirations and drivers of change’, significantly informed the working group’s early discussions.
-March 2015: Call for written input
A call for input was open from March-May to build on the initial outputs of the working group.The call for input allowed the working group to hear a broad range of views and aspirations concerning the future health of the UK population
-May – July 2015: Verbal input sessions
Seven roundtable discussions were hosted to supplement the written input received, with each focusing on a specific set of influencing factors identified in the earlier stages of the project.
-July 2015: Interim report released
An interim report was released detailing the progress of the report so far.
-Late July 2015: Second stakeholder workshop
A second one-day stakeholder workshop was held on 29 July to explore the research implications of the work completed by the working group so far. The event particularly focused on involving researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and those working in research infrastructure.
-September – December 2015: Public dialogue
The Academy curated a series of dialogue events (seven film screenings and six workshops) around the UK, to gather a snapshot of public views to feed into the project. More information can be found here, and in the report ‘Public dialogue workshops - Health, lies and videotape’.
-September 2016: Launch of the report
Working with its partners and collaborators, the Academy is implementing the recommendations of this report across the breadth of public health research.
In January 2017, the Academy convened an implementation workshop to explore how to implement the recommendations made in the ‘Improving the health of the public by 2040’ report. This convened experts in a wide range of fields, with discussions summarised in the report ‘Improving the health of the public by 2040: next steps’. In addition, the Academy continues to use the knowledge and expertise of the project’s working group and its Chair, Professor Dame Anne Johnson DBE FMedSci, to inform and guide implementation activities. More information about the Academy's implementation activities can be found here.
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Head of Policy
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