Groundbreaking research for health and wellbeing

Groundbreaking research has been carried out in Cornwall to support charities and small businesses that want to offer natural health and wellbeing services.

As a major part of his research, which was supported by ESF (European Social Fund) Convergence, John Tredinnick Rowe worked with Cornwall-based Spiezia. And alongside that ESF PhD research he spent a month in Finland – a leading country in health and wellbeing.

The aim of the research was to offer evidence-based advice to make it easier for health and wellbeing providers to work with larger, mainstream organisations such as the NHS. Conducted in Truro, the study focused on services based on the restorative properties of natural environments, and also aimed to increase public access to our natural heritage.

Mr Rowe, a researcher in the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, was supported by the ESF Convergence via the Combined Universities in Cornwall Research Project. He explained: 

“Research in this area is important because ill health and loss of wellbeing costs the British economy billions of pounds a year, mainly due to stress related work absence and avoidable prescription of drugs. Developing ways to alleviate these trends offers an opportunity to improve health and wellbeing, save money and also raise awareness about the natural environment. It is beneficial for businesses, consumers and for the environment. Nordic health and wellbeing services are much more advanced than in the UK. Yet whilst Finland is strong in hippotherapy (horses), areas including Cornwall are leading the way in horticultural and sailing based therapies.”

One of the issues Mr Tredinnick-Rowe tackles with his research is how small businesses, charities and social enterprises can finance their health and wellbeing offerings. He said:

“In Finland health and wellbeing organisations are all state funded. In the UK organisations that are innovative are often constrained by the economic climate. The pool of money for innovative projects is shrinking so it is a struggle for them to find funding. In Cornwall a lot of the health and wellbeing businesses have moved outside of their target market and found new ways to generate income.”

Spiezia, based at the University-managed Health and Wellbeing Innovation centre at Treliske, uses herbs and flowers to produce luxury hand-blended 100 per cent organic skincare products. It also runs the charity Made for Life Foundation which offers support - including holistic treatments, makeovers and nutritional advice - to people diagnosed with cancer.

As part of his work Mr Tredinnick-Rowe helped Spiezia with its marketing including researching customer demographics, buying patterns and trends.

Amanda Barlow, Spiezia Managing Director, said: 

“Having John in our office and undertaking the research that he did was a real asset for the business and strategy and laid down some good foundations for us to build on for the future. He was fantastic – it was great having an external viewpoint on the business as well as an exceptional brain working for us. I would recommend that other businesses get engaged with PhD research in the same way.”

Mark Yeoman, Head of ESF Convergence Communication, said: 

“Having a strong evidence base proving the effectiveness of any health and wellbeing intervention is vital to their justification. It is great to see ESF Convergence being invested in this valuable research that will underpin the activities of small business and social enterprises, including Spiezia."