Introducing our research strength focus: Health & Wellbeing

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At UWE Bristol we are proud of our active and collaborative research community of bold and innovative thinkers that are breaking research boundaries. 

Our four key research strengths are:   

  • Creative industries and technologies 
  • Digital Futures 
  • Health & Wellbeing 
  • Sustainability and Climate Change Resilience

Over the past three months we have been sharing content around our research strength, Digital Futures. We are now moving onto our next focus: Health & Wellbeing

We’re living longer. But are we living better? Can we harness the potential of genomics, artificial intelligence or the insights of behavioural science? From novel diagnostics to appearance research, coping with dementia to boosting self-esteem, we’re tackling the challenges of today and tomorrow, transforming health and wellbeing futures for all.

Our research strengths include:

  • bio-sciences, life sciences, health technologies
  • wellness, wellbeing, mental health
  • healthy ageing, long-term conditions.

To introduce this research strength, we are going to share with you two of our Health & Wellbeing research case studies: 

View all of our Health & Wellbeing case studies on our website.

Body Image

With concerns around body image being so prevalent, what will it take to improve young people’s chances of growing up with positive mental and physical health? From Instagram TV to gaming apps, the answer, as our researchers are finding, lies in creating meaningful connections.

“Low body confidence impacts health, relationships and education aspirations and achievements, as well as children’s willingness to speak up and challenge some of the social systems that oppress them,” says Professor Phillippa Diedrichs, Professor in Psychology at UWE Bristol’s Centre for Appearance Research (CAR).

Since 2014, the CAR team has been working with Unilever’s personal care brand Dove on the Dove Self-Esteem Project global education programmes, addressing the psychological, social, cultural and resource-based challenges to improving self-esteem and body image among young people.

The resulting interventions involve working with young people, parents, educators and technology experts, as well as global youth organisations like UNICEF, and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

It’s an approach that has reached 60 million young people worldwide in 142 countries to date. By creating tools that educators, community providers, parents, and young people themselves can use, the Dove Self-Esteem Project is one that empowers, while easing the strain and over-reliance on healthcare professionals. In low to middle income countries like India and Indonesia where there are few psychologists and mental health professionals relative to demand, this is vital.

‘Confident Me’ is a free school workshop series through which teachers encourage teenagers to build their self-confidence in the face of unrealistic images promoted in the media. More than 18 million young people in 45 countries across six continents have taken part. Thanks to UWE Bristol’s research demonstrating their positive impacts, the workshops have been integrated into national school curriculums in France, Chile and Argentina.

View the full case study here.

Grassroots collaboration beats malaria

Healthcare testing and treatment in some of the world’s malaria hotspots has been significantly improved thanks to participatory interventions designed by UWE Bristol.

The mosquito-borne disease exists in nearly 100 countries, claiming half a million lives each year. By focusing on the human and organisational challenges of tackling malaria, UWE Bristol experts have enabled local healthcare professionals across Southeast Asia and Southern Africa to change how they work, benefitting millions of patients.

This participatory approach to delivering healthcare is rooted in the work of Peter Case, Professor of Organisation Studies, whose insights into international development have attracted support and investment from the likes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded Malaria Elimination Initiative.

Professor Case advised National Malaria Control Programmes on best practice regarding how healthcare services can be delivered more effectively in the field. Unlike standard interventions that focus on technical challenges alone, Professor Case emphasised the importance of responding to the specific, contextual challenges of resource-poor areas.

Engaging local healthcare professionals at junior, senior and administrative levels proved most effective. In Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Namibia, this led to changes in the way teams co-operate and communicate at the district and national scale.

Workshops were held to bring people together to recreate the delivery system in a shared space, and staff were encouraged to talk openly about the challenges they faced. This structured approach offered coaching opportunities to staff, who felt empowered to identify and solve problems by co-designing medical interventions based on their own insights.

Professor Case’s research and practical applications formed the basis of a new methodology, packaged as the Organisation Development for Malaria Elimination tool.

View the full case study here.

View all of our Breaking Research Boundaries case studies.

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