University research to contribute to better health for Scotland

The Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee, St Andrews, and Glasgow are to combine their research expertise to investigate key issues that have an impact on the health of people in Scotland, including alcohol abuse, smoking, and obesity.

The Universities have come together to form the Scottish School of Public Health Research and are supported by a £445,000 investment from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).  Their research will focus on gaining a better understanding of: why people take up smoking and drinking; drinking cultures and the acceptability of heavy drinking; and effective ways to intervene and raise awareness of the chronic health problems caused by smoking, drinking, and eating to excess. 

The Universities will work with frontline healthcare providers including NHS boards and practitioners, and public health officers and organisations who will input at the early stages to define the research.  The results of the research will be used by healthcare providers to inform better patient care and practice, plan public health campaigns to help Scotland’s population live longer and healthier lives, and reduce healthcare costs in the long-term.

Mark Batho, Chief Executive of SFC said: “TheScottish School of Public Health Researchis an important new, collaborative initiative which the Funding Council is very pleased to support. 

“By working together, the Universities and healthcare providers will have access to far more information and expertise than they’ve had before.  This will improve the way public health issues are researched and fill gaps in our understanding of major health issues that affect the lives of many thousands of people across Scotland.”

Professor Harry Campbell from the Scottish School of Public Health Research said: “We hope that the creation of a Scottish School of Public Health Research will lead to greatly increased national collaboration across Scotland and greater alignment of research effort to national health priorities with the aim of making an important contribution to improving the health of the people of Scotland.”

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: “This work will mean important access to information and expertise that will be collated for the first time.

“Giving up smoking is the biggest single thing anyone can do to improve their health and we know we need to address Scotland’s drinking culture.

“By finding out more information about the causes of smoking and drinking we can intervene early to prevent behaviours arising that have significant cost to individuals, families and wider society, both in terms of health and economic impacts.”

It is also hoped that the pooled resources and joint working of the five universities will increase their national and international research competitiveness, allowing them to attract additional research funding from other sources, such as research councils and the private sector, to sustain the Scottish School of Public Health Research in future years.