Health & wellbeing

ADR UK has a large body of work aimed at improving our understanding of health and wellbeing in the UK, and what changes need to be made to improve service provision. ADR Wales’ work on wellbeing, for example, is connected to the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, which requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. ADR Wales’ data linkage work in this area will aid the measurement of Welsh language speakers, as well as offer new insights into isues including multiple deprivation of individuals, active travel, and loneliness. Two other key areas of ADR UK’s work include better understanding mental health, and working towards better social care in Scotland.

Understanding mental health

Enabling a more in-depth understanding of mental health and its impact on other aspects of life is a key part of ADR UK’s work across the nations. ADR Northern Ireland, for example, is working with its research partners to enhance the Northern Ireland national Registry of Self-Harm and Suicide Ideation – which collates information on all presentations to emergency department for self-harm and suicide ideation since 2012 (approximately 8,000 per year) – by linking it with data from additional health and social services, Census and death registry data. This will enable a better understanding of the risk factors associated with self-harm, suicide ideation and death by suicide and could be instrumental in shaping future prevention and treatment. 

In addition, the partnership is developing existing research using linked data about the mental health status and access to mental health services of the migrant and ethnic minority population in Northern Ireland. NI has experienced increased levels of migration in recent years, yet it is still difficult to gain an accurate and comprehensive account of the health of migrants. The findings of this ongoing work are useful to understand the quality and accuracy of available datasets in researching migrant populations in NI; to compare the health and mental health status of the largest migrant groups to that of the majority population; to identify migrants’ access and use of primary mental health care; to inform policy on migrant and ethnic minority equality; and to inform and support the activities of migrant community-based organisations.

Meanwhile, ADR Wales is working to link Welsh data to provide a better understanding of the mental health of those in sixth form colleges, and in the prison population. One in four people in Wales will experience mental ill health at some point in their lives. Getting the right treatment at an early stage, coupled with greater awareness of conditions, can in many cases prevent long term adverse impacts. 

Towards better care in Scotland

Health and wellbeing is a key area of focus for ADR Scotland, and it will be examined across a range of different research projects. In one strand, ADR Scotland is linking data to enable a better understanding of the pattern of care in Scotland (including at the end of life), whether provided by health services, social care providers, or informally by family or friends; and to analyse the interactions between health and social care.

Over decades, policies in Scotland have aimed to shift the balance of care away from institutional and acute settings to the community. Care provision often requires inputs from many different professionals and providers and there is no single source of information on care provision or on outcomes. Analysis of linked administrative data provides an unparalleled opportunity to better understand the whole picture of care in Scotland, in particular collecting information from otherwise hard-to-access groups. 

ADR Scotland is also exploring how factors such as where people grow up can affect later health (mental health in particular) and wellbeing; and how activities such as commuting can impact health. For some of this work, data from across decades of health records, birth registrations and census records will be linked. The work will provide evidence in support of NHS Health Scotland’s ‘Fairer, healthier Scotland strategic framework for action’ and responds to the emerging informational needs of Scotland’s new public health body.

More in-depth information about the individual data linkage and research projects being undertaken within this theme can be explored below.

Health & wellbeing projects

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