First analysis of primary prevention research landscape published

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The detailed analysis highlights the need for multi-disciplinary capability for research into whole-system influences on behaviour and public health.

Non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease have a huge impact on our quality of life and put pressure on the NHS and other services, especially as our society lives longer.

We want to prevent these diseases, and it is understood that the social and physical environments play a vital role in their development.

However, the interplay between these factors is complex, making the development of effective health interventions difficult.

Increased capability

This report, led by the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Population Health Sciences Group, provides an important baseline to inform the strategic direction of future prevention research in the UK.

This demonstrates that we need increased multi-disciplinary capability for research into whole-system influences on behaviour and public health.

This would achieve a deeper understanding of the complex influences and interactions needed to develop more powerful population-level interventions.

Professor Fiona Watt, MRC Executive Chair, said:

I welcome this timely analysis, which provides a rich and unified description of the prevention research landscape. The information contained in the report is vital for developing the future strategy for prevention research. We look forward to working with our partners to make this happen.

Dr Louise Wood CBE, Director of Science, Research and Evidence at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NIHR co-lead, said:

Primary prevention research is essential for improving population health and reducing health inequalities; NIHR is a key funder of research and infrastructure in this field. This analysis demonstrates the importance of initiatives such as the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP) to strengthen the UK’s research on non-communicable diseases.

Professor Nick Wareham, Director of the MRC Epidemiology Unit, Cambridge and Chair of MRC’s Population Health Sciences Group, said:

This analysis highlights the magnitude of the challenge of worsening population health and persisting inequalities in health outcomes and creates a clear case for a step change in investment in prevention research through a concerted national effort.

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