Date Published: 22 June 2010

University launches Institute to tackle regional health inequalities

Health News from Liverpool, England (UK).

A Centre to tackle the low life expectancy and high cancer rates of residents in the Liverpool city region will be launched at the University of Liverpool.

The burden of health inequalities is such that residents in Liverpool have the lowest life expectancy in England and live for four years less than the national average. Mortality rates for all cancers are 40% higher than in England and Wales and the mortality rate for lung cancer is 90% higher than the national average.

Funded by Liverpool Primary Care Trust (PCT), the Liverpool Health Inequalities Research Institute will focus on research into inequalities in health status and on the provision and quality of care in areas such as obesity, alcohol abuse and mental health. Its research programme aims to inform and improve policies, practices and services by health professionals.

The Institute represents a partnership between the University of Liverpool and the PCT and was borne out of the Health is Wealth initiative which was launched in 2007 to tackle the growing gap between the City-region’s improving economic performance and its worsening public health status.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, from University College London, who leads the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and is engaged in several international research efforts on the social determinants of health, will launch the Institute. At the request of the British Government he conducted a review of health inequalities, which published its report, 'Fair Society, Healthy Lives', earlier this year. Sir Michael will discuss the findings of this report and his research in public health at the launch.

Director of the Liverpool Health Inequalities Research Institute, Mark Gabbay, said:

The Liverpool Health Inequalities Research Institute represents an important milestone in building relationships between academics, health practitioners and commissioners in the health arena that will help us tackle health inequalities more effectively and better serve the needs of the local population.

Chairman of Liverpool Primary Care Trust, Gideon Ben-Tovim, said:

Liverpool has felt the positive benefits of extensive physical regeneration in recent years, but the poor health of many of our residents remains a major problem. By establishing this institute with the University of Liverpool I believe we have the opportunity to make some real in-roads into these complex and long-standing health issues.

The Institute supports a number of research projects exploring health inequalities covering key public health themes of alcohol, obesity, cancer and mental health and spanning the life course from pre-birth health advice to later life care.

One of the research projects is looking at an alternative way of treating sufferers of mental illness. The University of Liverpool’s School of English is assessing whether reading can help people who suffer with mental health issues, in particular, depression. The project runs two-weekly reading sessions in a GP surgery and a drop-in centre for adult participants with a GP diagnosis of depression. Bringing together different experts in depression, linguistics, social anthropology and literature, the project will evaluate the power of shared literature to improve mental health and address depressive symptoms.


Source: Liverpool University .

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